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SPEARE . . . . . . .136 















Photo by D. Me N fill, Stratford-upon-Avon 


STRATFORD-UPON-AVON .... Facing p. 4 

Photo by A. Tyler, Stratford-upon-Avon 

MR, F. R. BENSON AS HENRY V. . . . 13 

Photo by Chancellor, Dublin 


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Photo by W. &> D. Downey 


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Photo by W. & D, Downey 


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Photo by L. Caswall Smith 


Photo by D. McNeill, Stratford-upon-Avon 



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BELCH 209 

Photo by W. /. Kilpatrick, Dublin 


Photo by Central News Agency 


I AM very proud to be asked to write a Fore- 
word to a work published by a firm so long 
associated with the name of John Ruskin ; 
proud that our work at Stratford should be 
regarded, by the writers of it, as part of 
that campaign against the unloveliness of 
modern life in which Ruskin was the pro- 
tagonist. The outlines of the dream that 
Mr. Charles Flower and the founders of the 
Stratford-upon-Avon Shakespeare Memorial, 
their friends and successors, have been dream- 
ing and developing for more than thirty years 
may be summed up in the following general 

Even if the exact shape of the towers be 
lost in the clouds, the rainbow and the sunshine, 
seemingly variable because ever growing ; if 
for a moment one is bewildered by the vast- 
ness of its possibilities for the future, one is 
recalled to action in the present by the practical 
example of the founder and by the joyous stir 
and bustle attending the Festival. One of the 



pleasures of the dream is that its foundation is 
on solid earth, formulated in bricks and mortar 
linked to Warwickshire soil by creeping plants 
and twining flowers. For the man and his co- 
workers, who will always have the chief honour 
of designing the fabric, like the rest of our race, 
could do as well as dream. The picture has 
many settings. Here is one of them. 

It is the first of May. The dreamer is 
lying on a smooth lawn by the river-side ; 
part of the garden attached to the theatre 
buildings. To the right, through a frame of 
rush and willow, yew and cedar and elm, the 
spire of the church looks down on the mill 
where Celt, Roman, Saxon and Dane, Nor- 
man and Englishman for centuries have 
ground their harvest. In front, beyond the 
river, stretches the playing-field of the town ; 
secured to the towns-folk for ever by wise 
burgesses. The playing-fields are deserted 
to-day, save for a few youths enjoying the last 
kick of the season at a football, or their first 
renewal of the controversy between cricket bat 
and ball. The leisure energy of the com- 
munity is occupied elsewhere. 

The clock in the old church tower strikes 
twelve, and the jackdaws and the starlings 
notify to the rooks that another sun has 



reached its zenith ; but the rooks, busy giving 
their offspring a final lesson in aviation, 
merely caw back composedly, " It is so, all 
is well." On the river one or two boats and 
the swans with their cygnets are to be seen 
making for the croft on the other side of the 
theatre, where the ban or militia were wont in 
ancient days to assemble for practice in arms. 
The Bancroft, 1 too, is the perpetual possession 
of the people, thanks to the same wise policy. 

But hark ! I hear the minstrels play, and 
after them I know the rout is coming. 
" Such a May morning never was before," 
at least within our time. On to the green 
of the Bancroft dance the singing children 
of Stratford and the neighbouring villages. 
Young and old to the number of some 
thousands follow after to see the final cere- 
mony, to tune their hearts to the rhythm of 
the final dance, and carry back to their homes 
the human harmony of the final song. 

The Mayor in his chain of office, supported 
by the notables of the district, makes a cheery 
little speech. He hands a bouquet to the 

1 The derivation of the word " Bankcroft " is more usually 
given as that of the croft or meadow on the bank. Perhaps 
seeing the stress Skakespeare lays on national self-defence 
the other derivation given in the text may be allowed, 



Queen of the May, a fair little maiden seated 
on a throne of flowers in the midst of her court. 
The rough spear, entwined with ivy pointing 
upwards, connects the eternal homage paid by 
age to youth with the primitive wo/ship from 
our ancestors to the earth and the sun. Then 
the Folk-songs of our forefathers ring out 
blithely on the spring air, and the twinkling 
feet of the little dancers on the grass catch 
something of the rhythm of Shakespeare's 
verse and the music of the spheres. Among 
the crowd are many people from over-seas ; 
blood brothers of the race, fellow subjects 
from distant parts of our Empire, friends from 
foreign countries all the world over Scandi- 
navia, the Netherlands, France, Germany, 
Russia, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, and the 
Balkans. The Spaniard, the Bohemian, the 
African, the Asiatic recognise in many of the 
dances some primitive ceremony still in vogue 
among their own folk to this day. In the 
Broom dance of an elderly but active villager 
the American from Honolulu notes as an old 
friend the spear dance of the Pacific Islanders. 
The Indian Prince, guest of honour on this 
occasion, expresses his pleasure at being 
present with words full of meaning. " I will 
take back to my country the story of your 



song and your dance and your Shakespeare 
Festival, that my people may have more joy 
in their lives, and that your folk and my folk 
may better understand each other's religion." 
As said an Eastern in a byegone age, "Your 
people shall be my people, and your gods my 
gods." And then the May-day part of the 
Festival ends and the crowd disperse to their 
various tasks, and the Queen of the May steals 
forth in the afternoon to lay her crown and the 
bouquet, given by the Mayor, on her father's 
recently made grave. For her, as for the 
others, sorrow sojourneth but for a season in 
the promise of the May. 

" The earth, that's nature's mother, is her tomb ; 
What is her burying grave, that is her womb. 
And from her womb children of divers kind 
We sucking on her natural bosom find ; 
Many for many virtues excellent, 
None but for some, and yet all different. 
O, mickle is the powerful grace that lies 
In herbs, plants, stones, and their true qualities." 

The dreamer watches the streams of people 
scatter, some to the library or to the picture 
gallery, some to study the heraldic meaning 
of the decorations in the streets the blazon 
of achievement won by Warwickshire worthies 
or heroes of Shakespeare's verse ; some to the 


birthplace or the school, the cottage of Anne 
Hathaway, the home of Shakespeare's mother, 
Mary Arden, or the monument in the church. 
The bands of teachers troop off to their daily 
lessons in Folk-song and Folk-dances, or to 
hear a lecture on Folk- Lore, or Shakespeare's 
Girls and their Flowers. Some repair to 
the exhibition of arms and armour, of house- 
hold gear and furniture the furniture and 
metal-work made in the days when handicraft 
and skilled workmanship were the cherished 
possessions of every artisan. Or the onlooker 
may have followed the man with the spade, 
unconsciously helping to solve the problem of 
how to make a profit of 60 a year out of 
a single acre. His thoughts, however, going 
back to the land and the garden city, would be 
interrupted by another phase in this cradle of 
English yeoman life. He catches sight of a 
country waggon drawn by a gaily -decked 
horse half-hidden with tapestry, embroideries, 
and woven webs, whence look out the wistful 
faces of some workers from the neighbouring 
school of needlework, not strong enough to 
join in the dances except with their deft 
hands and hearts. Some, had he questioned 
them, would have told him that their poet 
had shown them in the Playhouse how "we 



English became what we are and how we 
can keep so." He would have reverently re- 
cognised that power of growth in the great 
Master's work that makes him eternally 
modern, so that the people of a thousand 
years hence will still have their lesson to 
learn to apply properly the wisdom of the 
Anglo-Celtic seer to the practical details of 
their everyday life. But now the crowd are 
beginning to re-assemble that they may attend 
the evening performance, and the dreamer 
will have to hurry off to get his place at the 
theatre. It may be that he will see some 
pilgrim from the country-side, visiting the 
theatre for the first time in her life, drop on 
her knees and pray, vaguely realising that this 
Festival of Drama may have something to do 
with the relation of man to God. He may 
hear in the theatre such remarks as " He is a 
clever one that wrote yon." Or the simple 
conclusion, breathlessly uttered at the end of 
Macbeth, " Aye, but that chap was a waster." 
Then he will watch the audience disperse to 
rest, and he will know the pilgrims have gained 
something of strength and knowledge, "Aye, 
man, it helps one to do a better week's work." 
On this starlit night, when the nightingale 
is singing, the triumph of the spring in every 

xvii b 


hedgerow round, the ceremony grows on his 
fancy and the dreamer returns to the river- 
side to think it out. And now in place of the 
swallows the bats fly their cloistered flights 

" The shard-borne beetle with his drowsy hums 
Hath rung night's yawning peal." 

The waters of the Avon reflect the music of 
the myriad of young-eyed cherubim, and as in 
the surface of a shield the dreamer seeks to 
catch a vision of the future. His fancy builds 
upon the events of the day, upon the shadow of 
the theatre, as he sees it reflected in the starry 
depths. There rises before him with added 
courts and upper storeys a temple dedicated to 
the genius of the Anglo-Celtic race. Around 
are shrines to the Greek and the Indian Sage, 
to Aeschylus, to Phidias, to Plato, to Michael 
Angelo and Beethoven, where the service of 
song is perpetually celebrated by priests and 
pilgrims. Side by side with the Morality, 
the Mystery, and the Miracle play are per- 
formed Sakuntala and the Drama of the East. 
The Orphic hymn in its early and latest de- 
velopment mixes with the bardic drama of the 
Ivernian minnesingers. Goethe, Cervantes, 
Moliere, and the moderns from every country 
contribute their offering at the dramatic altar, 



send their message of poetry the making 
of life and action for the children of men. 
Under its roof, books, pictures, statues help 
to express and formulate the work of this 
college of humanity. Stratford, Warwickshire, 
the British Empire, and America join in an 
informal conference of the Anglo-Celtic con- 
federation, With their differences adjusted 
in a world of art, music and literature their 
common race possession, they will realise, as 
they join hands with the subtle strength of 
India, the triumph of the Aryan Empire, which 
seems on this night of May to be drawing 
nearer with the dawn, for the pilgrims who 
have realised Shakespeare's message of strong 
and strenuous self-control. For them the 
blending of East and West and the recon- 
ciliation of Black and White can be left to 
the coming of the years. 

" From the four corners of the earth they come 
To kiss this shrine, this mortal breathing saint," 

bringing in their train the fervour of the 
Romance nations, the discipline of the Teuton, 
the primitive vigour of the Slav, the enterprise 
of the Scandinavian, the mystic reverence of 
the Oriental. 

The gazer in the stream can, in fancy, hear 


the prayer of agony, the praise of joy, the 
lyric of love, the paean of the battle, the call 
of the blood, the anthem of a new awakened 
and a larger faith, mingled with the thou- 
sand voices of our mother Earth, as the 
Master Singer unrolls his written scroll. 
Above these variant notes, dominant, insis- 
tent, in the great peace of the night sounds the 
call of the Higher Humanity, throbs the note 
of nature that makes the whole world kin. 

" If it be not now, yet it will come" ; let be 
the workers round the temple can wait. 










A FALLACY very commonly maintained by 
those who have set themselves to doubt the 
identity of the play-actor of Stratford-upon- 
Avon with the author of the great literary 
heritage known as the work of William 
Shakespeare, has consisted in the frequent 
statement that Shakespeare himself attained 
but little glory while he lived, and gained still 
less tribute from those who came after him 
within the century or more that immediately 
followed his death. 

It is a point of curiosity that any such 
view should ever have gained currency, either 
in print or in conversational argument, for, 
as a matter of fact, the praise of Shakespeare 
went onward in steady development and accu- 
mulation, from the tributes of his contempo- 
raries and immediate successors in literature 
"Rare Ben Jonson," Francis Meres ("the 


Muses would speak with Shakespeare's fine 
filed phrase, if they would speak English"), 
Richard Barnfield, John Weever, Michael 
Drayton, and others to the stately eulogy of 
Milton's famous sonnet. 

From Milton's time onward, through the 
modish literature of the Restoration period, 
and the more pedantic feeling of eighteenth- 
century criticism, approval of Shakespeare 
progressed, until the more humane spirit of 
nineteenth-century letters completed the shrine 
of appreciation that had gradually been built 
around the name and work of Stratford's son, 
who, in Ben Jonson's phrase, " was not for 
an age, but for all time." The compiler of 
" Shakespeare's Centurie of Prayse" gave an 
interesting survey of the continuity with which 
homage was paid to Shakespeare throughout 
the first century after his death, and Mr. 
C. E. Hughes, in his delightful volume, " The 
Praise of Shakespeare," presents a still more 
comprehensive record, and one brought down 
to the tributes of our own day. 

It is, however, somewhat curious, but still 
the fact, that while the literary love for Shake- 
speare's work, and the resulting increase in the 
study of it, marched steadily onward, belief 
in the poet's plays as entertainments for 



the theatre-going public gradually decreased, 
from the days of their "improvement" and 
adaptation for the artificial tastes of the period 
by Dryden, Nahum Tate, and other play- 
wrights, until, by the middle of the Victorian 
era, only some half dozen, or but few more 
than that, of the greater tragedies and comedies 
could be said any longer to hold the stage. 
Samuel Phelps, in his memorable management 
of Sadler's Wells Theatre, did his utmost to 
remove this reproach ; but, with the gradual 
passing of the actors trained in the traditions 
of the old " stock" companies, all but the more 
admittedly popular of Shakespeare's plays were 
relegated from the stage to the study again. 
There they awaited the full renaissance of the 
Shakespearean drama on the stage under the 
enlightened rule of the more literary of our 
modern actor-managers. 

Meanwhile Shakespeare's native town of 
Stratford-upon-Avon was in even poorer plight 
than the metropolis or the larger provincial 
cities, since it obviously could not offer the 
strongest form of inducement to the actor- 
managers of succeeding generations to make 
any lengthy sojourn within its gates for the 
sole purpose of producing the Shakespearean 
drama. For many years it could not even 



extend the hospitality of a permanent theatre 
for stage visitors of repute at any ordinary 
period of the year, but erected a temporary 
pavilion for the occasional commemoration of 
that son who in its noble parish church lay "as 
lord, not tenant to the grave." 

The first recorded celebration of Shake- 
speare's memory in his native place, as dis- 
tinct from the ordinary performance of his 
more popular plays by strolling players, among 
whom are known to have been both Peg 
Woffington and Roger Kemble, the father of 
the famous Mrs. Siddons was a performance 
of "Othello" given in 1748 by a touring 
manager of some repute named John Ward, 
the maternal grandfather of Mrs. Siddons, for 
the raising of funds to repair Shakespeare's 
monument in the church. 

The performance realised ^17, and the 
occasion has been handed down to the present 
time by a curiously direct memento in the form 
of a pair of buckskin gloves which are believed 
to have belonged originally to Shakespeare. 
They were presented, as such, in recognition 
of the performance, to the actor John Ward, 
by Shakespeare Hart, a descendant of the 
poet's sister. Ward subsequently gave them 
to David Garrick, from whom they passed to 



Mrs. Siddons, and through her to Fanny 
Kemble, who presented them to Dr. Horace 
Howard Furness, the eminent American autho- 
rity on Shakespeare's work. 

The first Shakespearean Commemoration of 
any organised importance was a " Jubilee" 
promoted by David Garrick in 1769. This 
was in its way a very brilliant affair, but con- 
cerned itself less with the actual plays of Shake- 
speare than has since become the custom, 
banquets, balls, and even horse-racing forming 
the larger part of its programme. 

The opening of a regular theatre in 1827 
led to the visiting of Stratford by many well- 
graced players. Hither came the Keans, father 
and son, Macready, Dillon, Mrs. Nisbett, and 
others who made the theatrical history of their 
day. The more popular of Shakespeare's 
plays were given from time to time by these 
and less distinguished actors, but after a time 
the theatre fell on evil days. At last, in 1872, 
it was bought by Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps, 
and pulled down, amid general approval, in 
order that the ground which it now cumbered 
to no sufficient purpose might be restored to 
its former state, as part of the garden belong- 
ing to New Place, the home of Shakespeare 
after his withdrawal from London life. 



In the course of these ordinary professional 
performances there were held two Festivals 
one in 1827 and the other in 1830 which 
were intended to inaugurate a series to be held 
once every three years, but the scheme fell 
through after the second celebration. There- 
after all commemoration ceremonies fell into 
abeyance until 1864, when the tercentenary of 
the poet's birth was marked by a series of 
performances of his plays, in which Buck- 
stone, Compton, Creswick, and Sothern took 

The great success of this Festival, which was 
held in a temporary building erected for the 
purpose, inspired local enthusiasts with a wish 
for a more permanent headquarters for future 
celebrations. At length, in 1875, a few Strat- 
ford-upon-Avon men, led by the late Charles 
Edward Flower, formed themselves into an 
Association for the purpose of building, as a 
memorial to Shakespeare in his native town, 
a theatre to form a permanent centre for the 
frequent revival of his works, without regard 
to the limitations all too long imposed upon 
the selection of plays by the preferences of 
"star" actors or the determination of the 
older playgoing public that only a few of 
the most famous tragedies and comedies of 



the poet could be considered at all attractive 
in the theatre. 

The scheme also included a library for the 
collection and preservation of the literature 
connected with the poet's work, and a picture 
gallery for the display of art chiefly inspired by 
his themes, whether on canvas or in stone or 
other medium. In 1877 this project was ful- 
filled by the opening of the handsome Memorial 
Theatre, which, with its fine library and picture 
gallery and its spacious gardens on the bank 
of the Avon, has in the years that have passed 
become a very real and valuable centre of 
Shakespearean study. 

It is thirty-four years since the Shakespeare 
Memorial Theatre was built at Stratford-upon- 
Avon, and to-day, in 1911, it remains the only 
endowed theatre in England. It is the only 
theatre of which the charter enables its Gover- 
nors to work not for dividends but solely for 
the particular interests of dramatic art which 
they have in view. " Organise the theatre," 
said Matthew Arnold, and the Governors of 
the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre have done 
their best to endow and organise " the constant 
reiteration of Shakespeare's words " in all their 
extraordinary truth of inspiration and nobility 
of ideal, individual and national. 



Between the years 1875 an< ^ 1908 Mr. Charles 
Flower and his wife, who long survived him, 
contributed some ,50,000 to the building and 
endowment of the Memorial, and at her death 
Mrs. Flower bequeathed to the Association the 
riverside property of Avonbank which adjoins 
the original grounds of the Memorial buildings, 
and therefore considerably extends their domain 
for the benefit of future generations. 

To illustrate the principles upon which the 
theatre is governed, it may be of interest to 
quote here a clause of the Articles of Associa- 
tion : 

" The income and property of the Associa- 
tion, whencesoever derived, shall be applied 
solely towards the promotion of the objects of 
the Association as set forth in this Memorandum 
of Association : and no portion thereof shall be 
paid or transferred, directly or indirectly, by 
way of dividend or bonus or otherwise how- 
soever by way of profit, to the persons who at 
any time are, or have been, Members of the 
Association, or to any of them or to any person 
claiming through any of them. Provided that 
nothing herein shall prevent the payment in 
good faith of remuneration to any officers or 
servants of the Association or to any Members 



of the Association or other person in return for 
any services actually rendered to the Associa- 

In the Memorial Theatre, which thus came 
into existence, Shakespeare's reputed birthday 
and his probable death-day too, April 23rd, 
and a varying number of preceding or ensuing 
days, have for the past thirty years seen the 
performance of a number of the poet's plays. 
And each year has added to this list at least 
one play not previously performed there, until 
but three remain unproduced, " Titus Andro- 
nicus," " Troilus and Cressida," and "All's 
Well that Ends Well." 

To have added such a goodly number of 
previously neglected works to the ranks of 
the comparatively few which have been at all 
frequently glorified by sumptuous " long-run" 
revivals would have amounted to an achieve- 
ment more than justifying the Memorial Theatre 
of its critics, even if the plays had been mounted 
but now and again. But with the growth of 
the Festival's audiences, and the consequent 
extension of the annual series of performances, 
it has now for some years been possible to 
repeat quite a large number of these revivals 
every year. Thus Shakespeare's town can 



to-day with honourable pride claim to be the 
one place in the world where a visitor can 
witness as many as sixteen of the poet's plays 
within a brief three weeks' season. 

Beginning its work at a time when even the 
traditions of Shakespearean acting had fallen 
out of memory with the passing of the older 
generations of players, and only a few of the 
more familiar of the poet's tragedies and 
comedies were at all frequently performed 
upon the English stage, the Council of the 
Memorial Theatre set itself to restore to the 
modern theatre the long array of Shakespeare's 
tragedies, comedies, and historical plays, which 
had all too long been omitted from any 
theatrical repertoire in the poet's own country, 
and could be seen performed only in the sub- 
sidised theatres of Germany. The opening 
production, in 1877, was " Much Ado about 
Nothing," in which Lady Martin, the famous 
Helen Faucit of earlier days, emerged from 
her retirement and played Beatrice to the 
Benedick of Barry Sullivan. " Hamlet," "As 
You Like It," and other plays were also in- 
cluded in the programme of this first of the 
modern Festivals. 

In the following year the Memorial Coun- 
cil again availed itself of Barry Sullivan's 


Photo by Chancellor, Dublin 



experience for the conduct of the revivals, and 
then for two years Mr. Edward Compton, whose 
distinguished father had contributed much to 
the success of the 1864 Celebration, was en- 
trusted with the artistic control of a programme 
which included " Twelfth Night," " Romeo and 
Juliet," and "The Comedy of Errors" as chief 
novelties. In 1883 Mr. Elliot Galer, an Eng- 
lishman chiefly associated as actor with the 
American stage, added "Macbeth," " Henry 
IV., Part I.," and " King Lear" to the list of 
the Memorial productions, and in the following 
two years Miss Alleyn contributed " Cymbe- 
line," " Measure for Measure," and " Love's 
Labour Lost." 

The list of productions already wears an im- 
portant air, but it must be admitted that they 
had so far been leavened with sundry modern 
plays that were in no sense worthy of the 
occasion. The real fact probably was that 
the affair still remained for the most part a 
local one, and local audiences were not large 
enough to require several performances of one 
play. The Festival had still to await the 
gradual growth of a gathering of visitors such 
as now supports it. In 1886 the control of 
the theatrical arrangements was for the first 
time entrusted by the Memorial Council to 


Mr. F. R. Benson, who had not long be- 
fore organised his now famous Shakespearean 
Repertoire Company. Since then Mr. and 
Mrs. Benson and their company have been 
responsible for the productions of the Memo- 
rial Theatre, with the exception of those of 
1889-90, when the performances were directed 
by the late Osmond Tearle, and of 1895, when 
Mr. Ben Greet was invited to produce the 
series of plays for the year, and with his re- 
vival of "The Winter's Tale," with Mr. H. B. 
Irving, Miss Beatrice Lamb, Miss Dorothea 
Baird, and Miss Louie Freear in the cast, 
made a notable addition to the Memorial 
Theatre's record. 

With the more continuous policy made pos- 
sible by a single directorate the reputation of 
the Memorial productions has grown apace. 

When the Memorial buildings were first 
projected, many a voice was raised to protest 
that the one thing lacking would prove to be 
the audience. The prophecy has proved idle. 
By 1897, when the theatre was just twenty 
years old, the Festival's brief span of a week 
was extended to a fortnight, and in five years 
came a further expansion to three weeks ; 
and with each added week has come the 
further series of audiences that the enterprise 



required. And the year 1910 brought the 
most important development of all in the 
establishing of a summer season of a further 
three weeks' period in addition to the older 
Spring Festival. It has thus become feasible 
to arrange programmes of greater variety than 
was possible in old days, especially as Strat- 
ford's expansion has found an increasingly 
generous spirit of co-operation on the part of 
many of the most distinguished players of our 
time. Thus a Festival programme nowadays 
provides not only a galaxy of histrionic talent, 
but that further point of interest which the 
epicure in such matters finds in studying the 
work of different players, of different person- 
alities and temperaments, as manifested in the 
same play, within a few days of attendance at 
the Memorial Theatre. The Festival playgoer 
is thus afforded an opportunity for studies in 
comparative criticism which the conditions of 
ordinary theatrical management can seldom 

It has been an interesting scheme that has 
been carried out during the last few years at 
this, our only endowed theatre, and one that 
has done much to consolidate the artistic 
success of the Memorial project. 

Each year some play long banished from 


the stage has been revived with special 
elaboration, and at a time when most of these 
works, such as " A Midsummer Night's Dream/' 
" The Tempest," " The Merry Wives of Wind- 
sor," -Twelfth Night," "Timon of Athens," 
and the historical plays, Roman and English, 
had been entirely neglected on the London or 
provincial stage for practically a whole genera- 
tion, they were revived year by year at the 
Memorial Theatre, and not revived for the 
moment merely, but carried away to the 
country as part of the regular repertoire of 
Mr. Benson's itinerary and brought back to 
Stratford-upon-Avon to be repeated in support 
of the chief novelty of the next year's series. 
" The Merry Wives of Windsor," for instance, 
first revived at the Festival of 1886, when it had 
not been seen on the stage at all for many a 
long day, has been frequently given in ensuing 
years in immediate company with the historical 
plays in which Falstaff figures. Thus the 
Festival playgoer has achieved Queen Eliza- 
beth's wish to see the truculent knight pass 
from the plays which show him in the real 
history of his day, but only as a subordinate 
character, into the role of protagonist in the 
world of merriment with which the poet en- 
dowed the wives of Windsor. 



"Julius Caesar/' again, first revived in 1891, 
has since been repeated, in all the fresh effec- 
tiveness which the historical plays acquire by 
such proximity to each other, in Festival 
programmes in which it has stood midway 
between the other Roman plays, " Coriolanus " 
and " Antony and Cleopatra." Few points 
of interest in such matters could be more 
illuminating than the contrast brought out by 
this juxtaposition between the austerity of the 
Rome of " Coriolanus,'* the fuller yet still self- 
critical spirit of the Rome of " Julius Caesar," 
and the sensuous abandonment of that gor- 
geous East which Cleopatra held in fee. As 
far as one can gather, the experiment of giving 
these three plays from Roman history in close 
conjunction had never before been attempted 
on any stage, any more than had the intensely 
interesting scheme subsequently carried out at 
the Memorial Theatre, by the performance, in 
chronological sequence, of Shakespeare's long 
series of plays from English history. 

The interest of these chronicle-plays is enor- 
mously enhanced by their consecutive perfor- 
mance in the historical order of their events. 
Such a moment as Henry the Fifth's prayer be- 
fore the Battle of Agincourt, wherein the kneel- 
ing monarch protests his attempted atonement 

17 B 


for the murder of Richard the Second, which 
secured his father's crown, becomes doubly poig- 
nant when the auditors have but two nights 
previously seen the hapless Richard grace the 
triumph of proud Bolingbroke, and but one 
night since have witnessed the alarums and ex- 
cursions which left that same victorious Boling- 
broke small joy in his advancing years. 

The trumpet-call of English patriotism 
sounded at the close of " King John " forms 
the prelude to Shakespeare's long epic in 
dramatic form, which closes with the vision 
of national prosperity foreshadowed in the bap- 
tismal blessing of the infant Queen Elizabeth, 
in the last Act of " Henry VIII." Then 
comes the Lancastrian trilogy which, as Pro- 
fessor Dowden effectively says, "commences 
with 'The Tragedy of King Richard 1 1/ and 
closes with ' The Life of King Henry V.' 
In four successive plays is presented the story 
of the rise and triumph of the House of Lan- 
caster. Four other plays the three parts of 
4 King Henry VI.' and * The Tragedy of 
King Richard III/ present the story of the 
decline of the House of Lancaster and the 
rise and fall of the House of York. These 
plays of the Wars of the Roses and the life 
and death of the usurper Richard were the 



work of Shakespeare's 'prentice hand, when 
he worked in conjunction with some of his 
early contemporaries, and was subject to the 
dominant influence of the greatest among them 
Christopher Marlowe. The Lancastrian 
group contains some early work, for ' King 
Richard II.' cannot be remote in date from 
' King Richard III/; but the former of these 
plays, whether chronologically the second in 
order or not, is far more independent and 
native to Shakespeare's genius as a dramatic 
work than the Marlowesque tragedy of ' King 
Richard III.' The Lancastrian group has also 
in it work which represents Shakespeare's full 
maturity as a craftsman in dramatic history. 
It excels the Yorkist series of plays beyond all 
comparison in its fine studies of character, in 
its presentation of heroic action, and in its free 
and joyous humour. 

"The action may be said to move on with- 
out interruption from the opening of * King 
Richard II.' to the close of ' King Henry V.,' 
from Bolingbroke's challenge of Norfolk to 
the wooing of the French princess by the 
victor of Agincourt. 

" Then follows the series of dramas present- 
ing the rise and fall of the House of York, and 
through the eight plays which make up the 



whole connected series of Lancaster and York, 
runs a continuous moral purpose a setting 
forth, as it were, of the justice of God in the 
history of England, the sins of the father being 
visited upon the children or upon the children's 
children, until at last on Bosworth Field the 
evil has reached its term, and Richmond and 

* The true succeeders of each royal house ' 

enter * by God's fair ordinance/ on their 
heritage of loyalty and peace." l 

Vivid and impressive as are each of these 
plays singly, taken as a consecutive series they 
present us with a vision of history extraordi- 
narily illuminative of the national character. 

" Shakespeare's kings are not, nor are meant," 
as Walter Pater says, " to be, great men : rather, 
little or quite ordinary humanity, thrust upon 
greatness, with those pathetic results, the natural 
self-pity of the weak heightened in them into 
irresistible appeal to others as the net result 
of their royal prerogative. One after another, 
they seem to lie composed in Shakespeare's 
embalming pages, with just that touch of 

1 Shakespeare's " Henry IV., Parts I. and II.," illustrated by 
Edward Griitzner. Introduction by Edward Dowden, LL.D. 
Cassell & Co. 



Nature about them, making the whole world 
akin, which has infused into their tombs at 
Westminster a rare poetic grace." 1 

While these kings were living their little 
day the national character was evolving, slowly 
and imperceptibly. Even Shakespeare him- 
self when he wrote these plays, or rewrote 
them from older models, could not see their 
full historical value, because he lived too soon 
to see the long results of the strange happen- 
ings which he merely accepted from their first 
chroniclers. But he accepted with an extraordi- 
narily fine sense of selection, and throughout 
he seems to see the general trend of the English 
character, while monarch succeeded monarch 
and then went down to " Death's public tiring- 
house/' In these historical plays, ranging from 
"King John" to " Henry VIII.," he shows 
himself not only as a great dramatist, but as 
an English patriot, illustrating the slow but 
sturdy growth of his own countrymen. 

The splendidly vivid interest with which 
Shakespeare has endowed this long series of 
pictures of the gradual but continuous evolu- 
tion of the English national character under 
many rulers, was emphasised to the full for 
the first time, for the bulk of the audiences, by 

1 " Appreciations," by Walter Pater. Macmillan & Co. 


the staging of these plays, and the effect was 
strangely moving. The series of performances 
will endure as a most interesting memory to 
all who witnessed them, and as a monument 
of what has been accomplished at Stratford- 
upon-Avon, in a cause which had previously 
been attempted only in Germany. 

If the Memorial Theatre had done nothing 
else in its history but provide this fascinating 
experience, it would be more than justified of 
all its critics. An instrument of national educa- 
tion of the finest value would be supplied by 
the more frequent performance of these plays, 
especially if given, as at Stratford, in their 
chronological sequence. 

But even the most ardent of Stratford's pil- 
grims lives not by chronicle-plays alone, and 
amid all the recondite labour of restoring to 
the stage such all too long neglected work, the 
more generally popular of Shakespeare's plays 
have still yearly held their own. The Prince 
of Denmark has tardily avenged his father's 
murder, not only within the wonted limits of 
the modern stage, but in the larger sphere of 
character and motive supplied by the perform- 
ance of the entire text of the play, with whole 
speeches and scenes long omitted from accepted 
" acting versions." Verona's star-crossed lovers 



have plighted their tragic troth, Othello has 
loved the gentle Desdemona " not wisely but 
too well," Macbeth has murdered sleep, and 
fond King Lear has made division of his 

Shylock has been baffled of his bond by the 
Portia come to judgment, Sir Toby Belch and 
his fellow-roysterers have fooled Malvolio in 
the Illyrian garden, Beatrice and Benedick 
have made a match of their two mad wits, 
Petruchio and his Katharine have stormed 
their way to happy wedlock. Rosalind and her 
fellows have met to " fleet the time carelessly, 
as they did in the golden world," here upon the 
confines of the very Forest of Arden of which 
Shakespeare wrote, while the foresters have 
borne on to the stage a deer from the same 
Charlecote Park wherein tradition says the poet 
went a-deer-stealing " Shakespeare, poacher, 
or whatever else," as Carlyle has it, "our 
supreme modern European man." 

Other local associations are not far to seek 
in the plays which mention actual places in the 
very course of their events, but even when the 
poet lets his fancy roam and takes the world 
for his stage, the colour of the Warwickshire 
countryside is never missing long. Illyria, 
Bohemia, Messina, Tuscany all in turn, in 



some of their poet's most lovable moments, 
become transmuted into simple Warwickshire, 
so that his own stage directions for one of 
his plays might be reversed and his native 
countryside be accounted for, once and for 
all, as to be found " dispersedly in various 

His "Wood near Athens" slopes over to- 
wards the bank of the soft-flowing Avon, and 
Nick Bottom and his fellow " rude mechanicals " 
are true-born Warwickshire yokels, although 
they " work for bread upon Athenian stalls." 
Titania's "nine men's morris" recalls the fore- 
bears of the very dancers who revive their old- 
world measure at present-day Festivals, and 
Oberon and Titania have planted their Grecian 
forest with the same wild-flowers which to-day 
are strewn in the church where 

" Kings for such a tomb should wish to die." 

And who more Midland in his rusticity than 
the "rural fellow" who bears unto the grim 
Egyptian monument " the pretty worm of 
Nilus " to bring liberty to Cleopatra ? 

Hamlet abandons his journey towards Eng- 
land only to find a typical Warwickshire peasant 
digging the grave for Ophelia, and the stream 
in which 



" Her weedy trophies and herself 
Fell in the weeping brook," 

flows even nearer Stratford than the water in 
which a maid of Clopton met her death, and 
suggested to the poet, says tradition, the manner 
of Ophelia's pitiful end. Both King Lear and 
Ophelia in their madness toy with the same 
old-fashioned Warwickshire flowers as Perdita 
in her simple joy. 

Even if this process of identification be " to 
consider too curiously," there is still no escaping 
from the charm of the conditions of playgoing 
amid the green meadows and old-world build- 
ings associated with the life of Stratford's 
dramatist. In a delightful article on the sub- 
ject which first appeared in The Speaker, 
and has since been reprinted in his volume 
of essays entitled " Ideas of Good and Evil," 
Mr. W. B. Yeats says : 

" I have been hearing Shakespeare, as the 
traveller in ' News from Nowhere ' might have 
heard him, had he not been hurried back into 
our noisy time. One passes through quiet 
streets, where gabled and red-tiled houses re- 
member the Middle Age, to a theatre that 
has been made not to make money, but for 
the pleasure of making it, like the market 
houses that set the traveller chuckling ; nor 



does one find it among hurrying cabs and 
ringing pavements, but in a green garden by 
a river side. Inside I have to be content for 
a while with a chair, for I am unexpected, 
and there is not an empty seat but this ; and 
yet there is no one who has come merely 
because one must go somewhere after dinner. 
All day, too, one does not hear or see an in- 
congruous or noisy thing, but spends the hours 
reading the plays, and the wise and foolish things 
men have said of them, in the library of the 
theatre, with its oak-panelled walls and leaded 
windows of tinted glass ; or one rows by 
reedy banks and by old farmhouses, and by 
old churches among great trees. It is certainly 
one's fault if one opens a newspaper, for Mr. 
Benson gives one a new play every night, 
and one need talk of nothing but the play in 
the inn-parlour, under the oak beams blackened 
by time and showing the mark of the adze that 
shaped them. I have seen this week ' King 
x john,' ' Richard II.,' the second part of 
1 Henry IV.,' * Henry V.,' and the second 
part of * Henry VI.,' and ' Richard III.' 
played in their right order, with all the links 
that bind play to play unbroken ; and partly 
because of a spirit in the place, and partly 
because of the way play supports play, the 



theatre has moved me as it has never done 
before. That strange procession of kings and 
queens, of warring nobles, of insurgent crowds, 
of courtiers, and of people of the gutter has 
been to me almost too visible, too audible, 
too full of an unearthly energy. I have felt 
as I have sometimes felt on grey days on 
the Galway shore, when a faint mist has 
hung over the grey sea and the grey stones, 
as if the world might suddenly vanish and 
leave nothing behind, not even a little dust 
under one's feet. The people my mind's 
eye has seen have too much of the extrava- 
gance of dreams, like all the inventions of 
art before our crowded life had brought 
moderation and compromise, to seem more 
than a dream, and yet all else has grown dim 
before them. 

"The easiness of travel, which is always 
growing, began by emptying the country, but 
it may end by filling it ; for adventures like 
this of Stratford-on-Avon show that people are 
ready to journey from all parts of England 
and Scotland and Ireland, and even from 
America, to live with their favourite art as 
shut away from the world as though they were 



'in retreat,' as Catholics say. Nobody but 
an impressionist painter, who hides it in light 
and mist, even pretends to love a street for 
its own sake ; and could we meet our friends 
and hear music and poetry in the country, 
none of us that are not captive would ever 
leave the thrushes." * 

Writing on the same subject, another visitor 
to Stratford's Festival, Mr. C. E. Montague, 
says in his brilliant volume of " Dramatic 
Values," reprinted from his contributions to 
The Manchester Guardian : 

" A thing not easily to be spoilt for you in 
Stratford is the way you go to the theatre 
there, at any rate on a fine evening in late 
April, in a year when the spring has not been 
soured by an ill-placed frost. . . . You go into 
it from a garden by a river, alive just now with 
little jocund noises ; there is that sound which 
to hear is like drinking cool water in summer 
the dip of oars and the little tinkle of laughter 
from people coming home in boats at twilight ; 
beyond the stream some lambs are leaping 
about in a meadow of juicy grass, or posting 
back to their mothers in silent thirst. Wherever 
you look, behold ! it is very good. Behind 

1 " Ideas of Good and Evil," by W. B. Yeats. T. Fisher 
Unwin and A. H. Bullen. 



you the little ordered country town is in the 
oddly gay mixed light of lamps early lit and 
of the lengthening daylight ; in front, beyond 
the lambs, the fields rise and fall softly till 
they go out of sight, the quintessence of the 
contained and friendly English Midland land- 
scape. When these things have possessed 
your souls with content, you go through a 
door and see, it may be, * As You Like It/ 
acted by artists on whom they are working 
too at any rate, you think so. The audience, 
on the whole, is picked and fit, for there is 
no mere fashion of coming here, to bring many 
quite vacuous spectators ; no one comes who 
does not care for plays or acting ; people laugh 
at the right place in comedy ; the space be- 
tween them and the actors is not the non- 
conductor of emotion that it often seems to 
be elsewhere ; it quivers with communicative 
quickness ; you do not have a sense that artist's 
intention and public's perception are fumbling 
for each other in a dark room ; you feel the 
stir of a common intellectual excitement chang- 
ing all the hard disparate atoms in the audi- 
torium into one quickened brain whose joint 
apprehension is not, as in most theatres, the 
apprehension of the dullest, but that of the 
eager and clear, the ones with speculation in 



their eyes. What dead silence receives, in 
most theatres, Le Beau's discreet civility 

1 Hereafter, in a better world than this, 
I shall desire more love and knowledge of you ! ' 

"It is not, or was not, so at Stratford ; you 
feel a whole audience to be delightedly tasting- 
flavours and valuing qualities in what they 

" After an act you step out into the more than 
pastoral quietude of a country town settling to 
rest after the day. The growth of stillness, 
since you went in, is measured for you by the 
new clearness of the little distant sounds, 
voices at far off cottage doors, or the shouts 
of a few children late at their play in the 
meadows. When the play ends, outside there 
is white river mist and dead silence. You all 
go to bed like one household. Half an hour 
after the Oresteia was done there was not a 
sound in the High Street ; at midnight the 
footsteps of two belated actors and their voices 
at the corner as they said good-night rang like 
a sound in midnight Oxford." 

The record of the Memorial Theatre has 
hitherto been primarily a Shakespearean one, 
but other interesting revivals and productions 

1 " Dramatic Values," by C. E. Montague. Methuen & Co. 


have occasionally figured in the programme. 
Possibly those who are pilgrims to Stratford 
for the sole purpose of this series of perform- 
ances would prefer to remain undisturbed in 
their Shakespearean mood. But then there 
is the very considerable local element of the 
audiences to be considered, the element drawn 
not only from the town of Stratford itself, but 
from a large surrounding district, and the late 
Mr. Charles Flower and the other founders of 
the Memorial Theatre had it ever before them 
as an ideal to endow a home primarily for 
Shakespearean celebrations, but incidentally 
also for a good deal else that is worthiest of 
repetition in our dramatic literature, whether 
ancient or modern. They intended, indeed, to 
concede, and even to approve the fact that 
there have been dramatists both before and 
after Shakespeare, just as " there were heroes 
before Agamemnon," though longo interval lo. 

The idea has seemed more suitable to the 
occasion since the Festival's span was extended 
to three weeks, and some of the non-Shakes- 
pearean fare presented has proved remarkably 
interesting. The difference between the ideal 
of tragedy held by the Greek dramatists and 
that of Shakespeare has been illustrated by 
a very impressive production of the Orestean 

3 1 


trilogy of yEschylus. Typical work of Shakes- 
peare's predecessors on the English stage has 
been seen in four of the Chester " Mystery" 
plays, and in Christopher Marlowe's " Ed- 
ward II.," and his contemporaries have been 
represented by Ben Jonson's " Every Man in 
His Humour." Of later dramatists Wycherley 
(adapted by Garrick), Sheridan, Goldsmith, 
Tom Taylor, Lord Lytton, Mr. Stephen 
Phillips, and Mr. G. E. Morrison and Mr. 
R. P. Stewart, with their interesting play 
" Don Quixote/' presenting the hero of Shake- 
speare's great Spanish contemporary, Cervantes, 
had divided the honours of these non-Shake- 
spearean performances, with the addition of 
certain one-act plays, down to last year. Then 
the innovation of a prize of ^300 offered by 
one of the governors of the Memorial Theatre 
resulted in the selection, out of 315 plays 
submitted, of " The Piper," a new version of 
the Pied Piper of Hamelin's story by an 
American poet, Josephine Preston Peabody 
(Mrs. Lionel Marks). 

It would almost seem that in his elaborate 
classification of the drama, Polonius had the 
Festival programme generally in view, for 
surely no other repertoire company has ever 
presented as varied a bill as that which forms 


Photo by L. Caswall Smith 



the annual three weeks' traffic of the Memorial 
stage. But, thanks to the fine spirit of co- 
operation in which many accomplished players 
share the arduous work of rehearsal and per- 
formance, it is possible to adopt the descrip- 
tion given by Polonius himself in answer to 
Hamlet's question, " What players are they ? " 
and to say : 

" The best actors in the world, either for 
tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral- 
comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, 
tragical-comical-historical-pastoral, scene indi- 
vidable, or poem unlimited : Seneca cannot be 
too heavy nor Plautus too light." 

For among the players who have taken part 
in the Memorial Theatre performances may be 
named the following : 

Mr. Henry Ainley. Mr. W. H. Calvert. 

Mr. Oscar Asche. Mr. Louis Calvert. 

Mr. Lewis Ball. Mr. James Carew. 

Mr. Shiel Barry. Mr. Murray Carrington. 

Mr. F. R. Benson. Mr. O. B. Clarence. 

Mr. Charles Bibby. Mr. Hannam Clark. 

Mr. Acton Bond. Mr. John Coleman. 

Mr. Arthur Bourchier. Mr. Edward Compton. 

Mr. Graham Browne. Mr. Thalberg Corbett. 

Mr. Alfred Brydone. Mr. W. Creswick. 

Mr. George Buchanan. Mr. Clarence Derwent. 

Mr. H. Caine. Mr. John Drew. 

33 c 


Mr. James B. Pagan. 
Mr. George Fitzgerald. 
Mr. Elliot Galer. 
Mr. A. E. George. 
Mr. William Gilbert. 
Mr. Ben Greet. 
Mr. Arthur Grenville. 
Mr. Herbert Grimwood. 
Mr. Walter Hampden. 
Mr. Martin Harvey. 
Mr. James Hearn. 
Mr. Henry Herbert. 
Mr. H. R. Hignett. 
Mr. H. Halliwell Hobbes. 
Mr. H. B. Irving. 
Mr. H. Jarman. 
Mr. Moffat Johnston. 
Mr. Cyril Keightley. 
Mr. C. Rann Kennedy. 
Mr. Matheson Lang. 
Mr. James Lewis. 
Mr. Robert Loraine. 
Mr. F. H. Macklin. 
Mr. Eric Maxon. 
Mr. H. O. Nicholson. 
Mr. B. Iden Payne. 

Miss Elinor Aickin. 
Miss Alleyn. 
Miss Sara Allgood. 
Miss Mary Anderson. 
Miss Dorothea Baird. 
Miss Virginia Bateman 
(Mrs. Edward Compton). 

Mr. Stephen Phillips. 

Mr. B. A. Pittar. 

Mr. Nigel Playfair. 

Mr. William Poel. 

Mr. Charles Quartermaine. 

Mr. Guy Rathbone. 

Mr. J. Forbes-Robertson. 

Mr. Jerrold Robertshaw. 

Mr. Ian Robertson, 

Mr. Frank Rodney. 

Mr, Stratton Rodney. 

Mr. Herbert Ross. 

Mr. G. Kay Souper. 

Mr. Otho Stuart. 

Mr. Barry Sullivan. 

Mr. E. Lyall Swete. 

Mr. Osmond Tearle. 

Sir Herbert Tree. 

Mr. Hermann Vezin. 

Mr. Lewis Waller. 

Mr. Edward Warburton. 

Mr. George Weir. 

Mr. Arthur Whitby. 

Mr. Harcourt Williams. 

Mr. J. P. Wilson. 

Mr. F. G. Worlock. 

Miss Jessie Bateman. 

Mrs. F. R. Benson. 

Madame Sarah Bernhardt. 

Mrs. Billington. 

Miss Lilian Braithwaite. 

Miss Tita Brand. 

Miss Lily Bray ton. 



Madame Marie Brema. 
Miss Hutin Britton. 
Miss Eleanor Calhoun. 
Mrs. Charles Calvert. 
Miss Elsie Chester. 
Miss Constance Collier. 
Miss Alice Denvil. 
Miss Marion Denvil. 
Miss N. de Silva. 
Miss Frances Dillon. 
Miss Gertrude Eliot. 
Miss Beryl Faber. 
Miss Violet Farebrother. 
Miss Helen Faucit (Lady 


Miss Ada Ferrar. 
Miss Beatrice Ferrar. 
Miss Louie Freear 
Miss Margaret Halstan. 
Miss Leah Hanman. 
Miss Helen Haye. 
Miss Kate Hodson. 
Miss Laura Johnson. 
Miss Mary Kingsley. 

Miss Beatrice Lamb. 
Miss Nora Lancaster. 
Miss Auriol Lee. 
Miss Kitty Loftus. 
Miss Marie Lohr. 
Miss Madge M c lntosh. 
Miss Wynne Matthison. 
Miss Jean Mackinley. 
Miss Evelyn Millard. 
Miss Mabel Moore. 
Madame Agnes Nicholls. 
Miss Olive Noble. 
Miss Mona K. Oram. 
Miss Nancy Price. 
Miss Ada Rehan. 
Miss Constance Robertson. 
Miss Saumarez. 
Miss Gertrude Scott. 
Miss Ellen Terry. 
Miss Marion Terry. 
Miss Violet Vanbrugh. 
Miss Wallis. 
Miss Genevieve Ward. 
Miss Frances Wetherall. 

Here, one may well feel confident, with 
Polonius, is an artistic fellowship indeed equal 
to every call. " Seneca cannot be too heavy, 
nor Plautus too light," for the players at any 
rate, and as for the audiences but that is 
another story ! Certainly one may assume that at 
Stratford, at any rate, Shakespeare's own work 



more than holds its own against the Latin 
author of whom another Elizabethan dramatist 
said, " What are twelve kicks to a man who 
can read Seneca ? " Plautus, curiously enough, 
is from time to time represented on Stratford's 
stage indirectly, but only to the extent to which 
Shakespeare borrowed from him in " The 
Comedy of Errors." 

For this golden pomp of " Tragedy, Comedy, 
History, Pastoral " from Shakespeare's work 
which year by year finds " a local habitation " 
on the Festival stage, a yearly larger and more 
cosmopolitan series of audiences has gathered. 
"I am always happy to meet persons who 
perceive the transcendent superiority of Shake- 
speare over all other writers/' said Emerson ; 
and the same responsive pleasure seems largely 
to animate the throng of visitors to Stratford's 
Festival, which now supplies audiences reaching 
a total some fourteen thousand strong in the 
course of the three weeks' celebration at the 
Memorial Theatre. 

The founders of the Memorial Theatre 
followed the ideal of Garrick in seeking to 
establish at Stratford-upon-Avon a stage that 
should prove not merely the occasional scene 
of Shakespearean commemoration, but also a 
fitting centre for the study of dramatic literature 



and the practice of the art of acting. The cir- 
cumstances of modern life have counted against 
the full development of this ideal. The number 
of students or actors who can spare the time to 
make a lengthy sojourn in a place where they 
have no other cause for residence than the fre- 
quenting of the Memorial Theatre and library, 
has hitherto been limited. Yet the name of the 
players who have shared in the high endeavour 
of Stratford's undertaking now approaches 
legion, and the weeks of their performances 
in each year are growing into months. And 
one very satisfactory result of the Festivals 
is to be seen in the constant translating of 
the Memorial productions to many another 
stage. Visitors to Stratford's Festival cannot 
but feel that something of the fitting qualities 
of place and occasion has contributed to the 
luminous revival of many of the plays for 
which all acting " traditions" had long been 
lost, and are accordingly glad that the work 
contributed to the annual Festival is often re- 
peated in London and other centres by the 
players, to an extent which may be considered 
to give to the Memorial productions a value 
exceeding the scope of merely local commemo- 

For the last thing that your serious Festival- 


goer desires is that the Memorial Theatre 
should remain, in all the fastness of its 
Warwickshire riverside, the be-all and the 
end-all of Shakespearean revival. And a con- 
siderable part of the ideal which inspired its 
founders is being carried into effect, while the 
artistic impulse given to the actors' work sur- 
vives in productions borne onward through the 
land, to " give the world assurance " of Strat- 
ford's great son 

" Shakespeare, on whose forehead climb 
The crowns o' the world : O eyes sublime, 
With tears and laughter for all time ! " 





IN the following chapters I set forth the main 
lines of a personal and unreserved faith in 
Stratford as a centre of Anglo-Celtic Art, the 
circumference of which constantly extends. 

My words have the peculiar value of being 
the confession of a convert, who holds no sort 
of official connection with the movement. 

Any other value that they may have will be 
enhanced by a study of the works to which 
reference has been made in these pages. 
Though, frankly, I write for the holiday-maker 
rather than for the student. 

So curious is the common attitude to the 
theatre that it is worth our while to trace 
dramatic origins, and to mark out clearly the 
reasons for a more human and hopeful view of 
the drama : 

The Drama sprang from the people as an expression of 
joy in community. 

Long before Shakespeare, Folk Art existed as at once 
a pleasure and an expression of racial religion. 



Shakespeare, through personal genius and kinship with 
the spirit of his day, concentrated within himself its vigour 
and tendencies. 

Shakespeare is the standard-bearer of the race through 
the ages. 

The True Theatre is a Cathedral of Human Joy. 

Wagner, by virtue of race-kinship, stands in close re- 
lationship with our work, and, unlike Shakespeare, himself 
imagined a Festival Theatre as a home of Indo-European 
Art. Bayreuth was never intended as a Wagner Theatre. 

If the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre is to cover the 
range of national feeling, music-drama and choral singing 
cannot be ignored, though the sectionising of different art- 
forms has kept them apart from the modern theatre. 

If Folk Art in all its branches reveals the Joy of Man- 
kind, our contemporary drama, our architecture, and 
education must clear a way through the tangled forest of 
civilisation, giving us cities and villages as beautiful as the 
dreams of our artists. 

Though art must never preach or become 
propagandist, unless it be the revelation of 
beauty and life the artist is reduced to impo- 
tence, and life itself becomes an unfulfilled 
promise, which is a lie. 

NOTE. Certain passages in these chapters are the embodi- 
ment of ideas that have appeared in T.P.'s Magazine, the 
Worlds Work, and T.PSs Weekly -, but in acknowledging my in- 
debtedness to the editors, I doubt whether they could identify 
them, so completely has the material been recast. R. R. B. 



DRAMA is the artistic presentation of elemental 
things. Like human birth the true dramatic 
conception must spring from the deep and 
everlasting desire of light and life, the ever- 
surging resurrection of form from chaos. 

Living in a sophisticated period, yet buoyed 
up with the hope of an age of greater beauty 
and simplicity, let us consider for a moment the 
origin of drama. By origin I do not mean 
merely the beginning of things dramatic in 
Britain, which led up to our chief glory, 
Shakespeare, and our widest and noblest 
period of personal and national expansion, but 
I allude to the first gleamings of that com- 
munal spirit that united men and women in 
their mutual concept of beauty, and in the 
physical expression of mutual joy and shared 

We know not where it first sprang to the 
light any more than we can fix by surveyor's 



science the exact place where man first beheld 
woman with conscious love, where first Cain 
smote Abel with deliberate hate, becoming 
first a murderer and then, beholding his mis- 
deeds, a solitary poet aghast at the part that 
he had played. 

But when mankind became tribal the daily 
routine of .hunting, of fire and water, of behold- 
ing the sun as a god and the stars as shining 
seraphim, made Life itself a drama, and the 
visible things of the world emblems of a 
natural religion. 

But when life became complex, when no 
longer simple toil, love, and hate were the 
end-all of existence, when death no more fell 
like a dream, and the inherent waywardness 
of man led him towards the complicated muddle 
that we call civilisation, he had to invent some- 
thing for a diversion : to call to his bard for 
a song, to his young men and maidens for 
a dance. Long before the days when religion 
came to be a thing apart and the arts a luxury 
or an amusement, in days comparatively simple 
a gap had appeared between daily life and 
the dances and songs of tribal religion and 

But the point that must be made plain before 
any conception of the relationship of life and 



art can be attempted, is that religious song 
and dance were the first signs of spiritual 
pleasure among those early peoples whose 
daily business was one of hunting and war, 
whose emotions were roughly love and hate. 
The religion of these folk consisted in the 
ceremonial worship of the forces of nature and 
the powers that moved their own passions. 

Their life itself was art, because it was true, 
and truth and pleasure are the bases of all that 
is noble in art or life. 

Lest the reader weary of abstract ideas let 
him join with me in this search for the true 
sources of drama. 

I propose first to describe simply the origin 
of drama among a people who stood midway 
between barbarism on the one hand and what 
we know as civilisation on the other. I mean 
the Greeks. 

Then I shall ask the reader to follow, in a 
separate chapter, the main lines of the dramatic 
development that led to Shakespeare. 

From that point we will try to show how the 
art of Shakespeare was veritably the voice of a 
people, and how through rekindling the fires 
of true tribal or folk-art, and rallying round the 
self-conscious plays of Shakespeare, we have 
the drama once again in direct touch with 



the hearty and joyous impulses of life, and 
need no more be thralls to the superficial 
and stupid manifestations of a denationalised 

A counterfeit presentation of life will -hang 
upon our heels for all time, but in dealing with 
the possibilities of our theatre we must look 
deep into the past before we venture to step 
confidently into the future. 

The cult of Dionysos, the wine-god, grew 
up in Diacria among farmers and herdsmen. 
This is very significant in view of the folk- 
revival of which we shall speak later. And in 
reading Stuart-Glennie on the more modern 
folk-songs and customs of Greece, I find that 
much of this old Dionysian cult has become 
intertwined with Christianity. But the associa- 
tion of drama with joy is apparent not only at 
the beginnings of its manifestation, but may 
be traced through the history of folk-lore, 
wherever, as in the case in question, we have 
a more or less connected record. During 
eleven months of each year, throughout the 
whole of Attica, the worship of Dionysos took 
place in dance and song. In all countries, in 
all civilisations, dance and song have pre- 
ceded plays and musical compositions. What 
we know as rhythm, and in a lesser degree 



rhyme, is simply an imitation of the primal 

Some say that this primal rhythm was the 
joy of man in the dance. 

Among the Greeks it was held that it was 
an imitation of the rhythm of Nature itself as 
expressed by the waves of the sea. At the 
festivals of Dionysos, especially when they 
consecrated the wine in autumn, the dances 
were human enough. To the modern mind 
they would appear indelicate, as they repre- 
sented in ceremonial movement not only the 
harvest and the vintage, but birth and death. 
Of course they were not indecent, but the 
simplest and purest forms of dramatic art. 
Dionysos was surrounded by priests, and each 
year the wife of the high priest was wedded to 
the god, a ceremony that was probably the 
basis of one of our own folk-dances. Also he 
was supposed to be surrounded by satyrs or 
goat -like demons, who were personated at 
festival time by the rustics. 

The reader may wonder what all this has to 
do with Stratford-upon-Avon. Let me warn 
him that this book is devoted to the explanation 
not alone of the Festival, which you yourself 
can describe as well as I, but to a thousand 
things of deep interest. These may at first 



appear difficult and disconnected, and I cannot do 
better than give you the keynote here and now. 

Stratford is a town in which old and new 
meet in Shakespeare. Every good workman, 
or wife, or artist is conscious that love and 
labour are holy and happy things. We want 
to make the world beautiful : to spread ideas. 
Therefore not only the plays of Shakespeare 
but every form of beautiful life must flourish 
here, so that its joyous influence may spread. 
That is the reason that we have set no narrow 
limits to the subjects of this discussion. Be- 
ginning by tracing the healthy origin of outdoor 
arts, a wide ground must be covered, and many 
a digression pardoned. What is true of the 
origin of dancing is true equally of all art. 
For any work which does not spring direct 
from human experience, as a spontaneous ex- 
pression of pain or pleasure, is bad. It may 
please the crowd for an hour, but cannot live 
in the hearts of men. 

If we go back to the beginnings of drama, 
many a guiding idea comes to us. For the 
early dances were the simple expression of a 
simple life. 

We have a curious side-light upon the age- 
long use of this dancing. The Homeric period 
takes us very far back, but the origin of the 


Photo by Window & Grove 



Sun-dances of the Red Indians may be traced 

In Europe, period has succeeded period more 
rapidly. But North America lay fallow as it 
were from the Stone Age to the beginning of 
what is quite modern history. The tale of 
Poi'a, the Star-boy, son of the Morning Star 
and of an Indian maiden, is older than that of 
Dionysos and the Greek goat-dancing. And it 
was Poi'a, according to tribal lore, who taught 
the Sun-dance to a race that knew the folk- 
wisdom and had kinship with Earth and Sun 
before any trace can be found of the same 
thing in Europe. 

This does not mean that folk-dancing began 
in America, because probably the same im- 
pulses were at work all over the world. 

But it proves beyond any question that folk- 
dancing was the first communal expression of 
religious feeling and human joy in life. 

The exact process by which dancing became 
drama can be traced by continuing our view 
of the Greeks. It is true equally of all races, 
but not so capable of clear proof, because of 
the essential difference between the Greek 
and the Red Indian. Both of them differed 
from the Briton, who about that time was 
painted blue. 

49 D 


These Dionysian Festivals of the Greeks 
were many, as has been seen. The dances 
and songs gradually took upon themselves a 
dramatic shape. Like the old English singing 
games they were pantomimic, and it remained 
merely to introduce semi-choruses and groups, 
and thus to turn them into dramas. 

Aristotle tells us, in his " Poetics," that 
Tragedy and Comedy in their earlier stages 
were improvisations. 

The first definite record of drama may be 
found in the accounts of Thespis, and his pro- 
duction of plays at Lenaea, under the patronage 
of Peisistratus, whose interest was divided be- 
tween town-planning and the drama. 

For it was about that time, curiously enough, 
that the organisation of cities and " town- 
planning " took a recognisable shape. The 
marshalling of ideas in art and life occur as a 
rule simultaneously, practical and ideal acting 
and reacting upon one another. 

This is the case to-day. For the first time 
in the history of the English Stage its organisa- 
tion and what may be called its " ideaography " 
is being debated, while the relation of architec- 
ture to civic life is another phase of a national 

These facts throw a new light upon the 


Shakespearean age, for they help to reveal the 
true reason why Shakespeare was in touch 
with the life of his day, while we, as a nation, 
are only beginning to be. This point must be 
left, however, for the Shakespearean chapters. 
One thing must be noticed here. The Eliza- 
bethan plays contained characters by the dozen. 
But not until Aeschylus was a second actor 
introduced by the Greeks. The Thespian 
plays were rather choral-dance-charades, with 
leaders or spokesmen for the chorus, and one 
actor, who was as it were the narrator, while 
the chorus provided the commentary. 

Sophocles, who was to the Greeks much as 
was Wagner to the Germans, allowed himself 
three actors. Also he began the use of painted 
scenery instead of the ceremonial background. 

The nature of that background and of the 
stage is important, as throwing light upon 

The stage, in three tiers like three key- 
boards on an organ, was set ceremonially, an 
altar at the back. 

The Gods walked the top stage, the prota- 
gonists the second, while the chorus moved 
upon the third. 1 

1 This is doubted by Mr. C. E. Montague in " Dramatic 
Values," but I am not yet convinced. R, R. B. 



Contrast this with the Elizabethan theatre, 
which may or may not have been covered, but 
almost certainly was flat, abutting into the 
audience like a prize-ring. 

The Greeks allowed no change of scene, also 
insisting upon unity of time, so that the Greek 
drama had the intensity of a one-act play. 

The free Elizabethan spirit permitted an un- 
limited variety of scenes, which were portrayed 
by word-painting and rhetoric. 

At the same time I gravely doubt whether 
in Shakespeare's time there was little or no 
scenery. Historical accuracy it had not, as the 
Italian plays of Shakespeare prove. But like 
Sophocles, Shakespeare would be an innovator 
and demand scenery, though his requirements 
would have seemed modest to Sir Herbert 
Tree. We know that the masques and 
pageants of the period had scenery. 

Another point which Shakespeare no doubt 
had in common with the Greek dramatists was 
the use of music, to which I shall refer later. 

This question of music in relation to drama 
is not understood widely. 

Having evolved from song and dance the 
Greek drama continued the tradition. The 
dance rhythm got into the verse, which, 
certainly from the time of Aeschylus, was 



accompanied by music, to which the chorus 
chanted and danced, and which sustained the 
voice of the actors. 
Therefore we find : 

(a) The drama began as ceremonial song 
and dance. 

(b) Constituted a folk-festival for savages, 
and, among the Greeks, for peasants. 

(c} With the growth of the city became a 
bond of civic ideals and an incarnation of 
religious beliefs. 

(d) Its form was that of music-drama, in 
which the various arts were allied. 

The reason for this digression is to lead up 
to the following chapters, in which I shall urge 

(a) The English folk-drama was a ruder 
form of art closely akin to the Greek, and 
arose from dances and songs of pagan wor- 

(b} That, being allied with the work of the 
Church, it became Christian. 

(c} That, with the awakening of England, 
first as a response to European learning, and 
then owing to the national awakening of the 
country under Elizabeth, the bucolic drama 
became merged in the wider and deeper drama 
of Shakespeare. 



(d) That folk-customs and plays never died 
out, and have survived to this day. 

(e) That in them we have the forgotten well- 
spring of English music and drama. 

(/) These, being in their essence eminently 
Shakespearean, are worthy of revival beside 
the great plays. 

(g) And that the living principle of folk-art 
calls for modern expression, and provides us 
with the best hope of a contemporary drama. 

It is a good thing that the English drama 
has lain fallow for so long. For only the best 
has survived, and we have witnessed and may 
observe daily the failure of a contemporary 
stage that aims at external amusement. The 
first principle of all drama is beauty, and unless 
a play be a picture, a joy to the eye and ear, 
the poet cannot venture into depths of meaning, 
of philosophy or religion. 

And that is the reason of the failure of con- 
temporary drama as an art. It can succeed 
commercially only through frivolity or vulgarity. 
As soon as it becomes deep it becomes dull. 

Whereas folk-art always is profound yet 
never tires the hearer or the beholder. 

In those days Art and Life were in some 
sort of harmony. With us contemporary drama 
has no place in our life and thought. In fact 



very few people have any ideas upon the art 
of living, and rely upon thoughtless habits. 
Hence what we call " boredom." 

Business men are disorderly and erratic, 
because commerce is competitive. Men can- 
not keep their heads level when they are 
striving to get them above their fellows. The 
modern market-place is like Donnybrook Fair. 
On the other hand, the artist is orderly. The 
painter, the musician, and the poet depend upon 
harmony in colour, in tone, and in idea. Be- 
cause the madness of Mammon creates chaos 
and gloom, one needs the calm and the sim- 
plicity of great art. And to produce good 
work the artist must be erect, not scrambling 
on all-fours for pennies. If we get out of 
London on a horse-'bus we find ourselves on 
solid earth beneath the open sky. Here we 
may begin to study the Greeks, not with 
a guide-book in the Parthenon, but "right 
here," as the Americans say. Our Meteoro- 
logical Office is a scientific institution. With 
the Greeks it would have been a temple to 
Athena. They worshipped the earth as 
Demeter, the mother, unchanging in her love, 
and Athena as goddess of air. Athena was 
a young woman, for the weather was full of 
feminine wiles and whims, even beneath the 



beams of Apollo, who was the sun-god. Greek 
mythology was the presentation of scientific 
fact and religious belief under the beautiful 
disguise of fairy tales. 

There can be no doubt that the Greek ideals 
proceeded from the Homeric Age. Then all 
was primal and elemental. Man was a hero in 
close contact with Neptune the sea-god, and 
the harpies evil spirits of the air. On him 
the beams of Apollo shone, and the breath of 
Athena, giving him strength for his mighty 
labours. Civilisation did not with them de- 
stroy these ideas of gods and men. In our 
own case, primitive conceptions have become 
sophisticated. We have ethics, sociology, art, 
dogma, all separated and controlled by com- 
mittees and managers. The Greeks built up 
their religion from Nature. Science added to 
their lore. Poets were subconsciously religious, 
because their poems and drajnas, even their 
dances, were conceived as illustrations of reli- 
gious truths. The priest and the artist hewed 
their stone from the same elemental quarries. 
In modern England the censorship taboos plays 
drawn from the Scriptures. Public opinion re- 
gards a religious novel as in bad taste. There- 
fore the expressions of priest, poet, and politician 
are addressed to different publics, and harmony 



between pleasure, instruction, and statecraft is 

In Greece, religion and life itself were ex- 
pressed and contained in the drama. In 
England, in pre-Shakespearean days, the 
Church held and controlled religious concep- 
tion, and the English stage actually grew 
from the Church, as will be seen in the next 
chapter. The Church and Stage were in close 
relation before Shakespeare's day. The task 
of his immediate predecessors, and of himself, 
was to render it popular and national. 

And that is why, in pleading for a more 
consistent attitude to folk-art, I am compelled 
to compare the Greek with the British way of 
looking at things. 

Of religion as we know it the Greeks had 
no idea. Sin was a meaningless term to them. 
"Thou shalt not " would have proved an in- 
centive, for liberty rather than the restraint of 
duty lay at their core and centre. Their view 
of Pan illustrated this point. Music to the 
Greeks was a culture. It included music in 
which word and thought lead, while Apollo's 
lyre fills them with the sun's own light. The 
works of Sophocles and the dramatists be- 
longed to this kind, for they were more music- 
dramas than plays. In our own day Elgar's 



"Gerontius" is typical. Below this level they 
reckoned work in which the intellectual or the 
brutal predominated, in Elgar's " Kingdom," 
and in brutal works of genius such as " Pag- 
liacci." Below this again, they set merely 
sensuous tone-painting, played mostly on 
Doric flutes. These were the pipes of Pan, 
whose cult has begun again in artistic circles. 
The root of Pan-worship lies in the belief that 
the gratification of the senses is to be desired 
up to a certain limit. It is a wholesome anti- 
dote to asceticism, though the Greeks knew 
what they were about in setting Pan beneath 
Demeter, Athena, and Apollo a mere flute- 
player on the mountain of the gods. 

The British idea of unity is an Empire on 
which the sun never sets. The Greek ideal 
of a State was of an organic city, on which the 
sun set every evening with perfect regularity 
and beauty. Athens was about the size of a 
large provincial town, and Plato thought that 
its population of one hundred thousand rendered 
it unwieldy. Each man was a citizen, taking a 
direct and personal part in the corporate life. 
The very word ''politics" implies "city-craft/' 
That is to say, Athens was more an ideal 
limited company, with directors, shareholders, 
and employees, than a go - as - you - please 



conglomeration of units, who only come into 
contact with the community when they collide 
with the rate-collector or fall into the clutches 
of a policeman. The Greeks were aristocrats ; 
their philosophers intelligent clubmen rather 
than "dons" or professors. They employed 
slaves to do manual work and for productive 
labour, not that they might sit in idleness, but 
to give time for the art of life. 

Another reason for the simple, organic health 
of Athens lay in the opposite direction. The 
individual had a standard of conduct. Not 
only was there a clear conception of the ideal 
state as a city, but the Greeks lived up to their 
gods. Apollo sprang from imagination, it is 
true. But he was the dream of a perfect 
manhood, at once an idol and an example. 
The gymnasium was not a place for acrobatic 
display, but a haunt of philosophers and their 
school of followers. Nor did they alone ex- 
ercise their tongues and their wits, but also 
their bodies. If we can imagine an amal- 
gam of, say Mr. Frederic Harrison and Mr. 
Sandow, we have a fair picture of the nobler 
Greek. The Olympic games were held in 
honour of Zeus, the all-father. Sacrifice, 
prayer, and choral hymn took their places in 
what was really a great play. Nude, for the 



most part, the athletes were symbols of god- 
like strength and striving. The prize was 
not a purse, but a laurel crown. The victor's 
triumph lay not in the raucous applause of a 
rabble, but in an ode by one whose hand 
could hurl a discus, whose heart was unafraid 
of battle. They worshipped the Earth-mother 
in the strength of Athena, and in their nobility 
raised up man as Apollo in glory, even as the 
evil hearts of men had crucified him as Christ. 

From whatever point of view one regarded 
the Greeks, their ideas and their religion were 
mirrored in the drama. The dramatist then, 
and to some extent the actor, were more than 
the priests of a religion. In a degree they 
were its creators. 

What then is the God-bestowed gift that 
enables a man to reveal, as Sophocles or 
Shakespeare, the soul of a people? 

The dramatist, as distinguished from the 
mere playwright, the dramatic pedestrian, is 
an artist who is at one with the universe and 
at war with himself. 

A deep unrest, coupled with a broad faith 
and poetic vision, gave Shakespeare to us, 
Dante to Italy, Goethe and Wagner to Ger- 

The dramatist may be Christian or Pagan, 


but to be a maker of great dramas he must 
deal with huge ideas and great simplicities, 
unhampered by partialities or prejudices. His 
Tragedy must be charged with that strange 
tense feeling which comes to us on waking 
from some terrible dream. His Comedy must 
have the comprehensive wit of one who knows 
both the rose and her thorns. 

The quality nearest to the heart of Man is 
Beauty, and it is from the hues of the rainbow 
that he must draw his colour, from the sounds 
of the air his music, from the green garment 
of the earth his scene, and from man himself 
the voice. 

The dramatist has to inspire this setting 
of nature with his human message. The man 
to whom it is given to harness sound and 
scene and sense has surely within him the 
power to draw mankind to some worthy 

The means employed will vary according 
to the age in which the dramatist lives ; and 
climate, religion, laws, and customs each will 
bear a part. 

The technical questions of music, painting, 
and the other arts are also of the greatest im- 
portance in discussing the nature of drama. 
It is generally admitted nowadays that the 



drama is the fittest form, and the most fully 
evolved means, for conveying the work of an 
artist to an audience. Theatrical affairs have 
not of late years maintained the dramatist in 
the position of honour which once was an un- 
contested right. 

Assuming that the stage is a great frame 
in which can be set up a picture, actually living 
and moving, and granted that the poetic and 
musical arts can sound all the harmonies of 
nature, it follows that he who uses these means 
to their full compass can produce an effect on 
the emotions and senses impossible in any 
other way. 

The creative impulse presupposes a view 
of life, and since impersonal ideas cannot be 
rendered visible it is necessary to clothe them 
in flesh. Just as the life-value physical and 
spiritual of parents is clothed in the fleshly 
body of the child, so must the persons of a 
play embody the ideas, the life-value of the 
dramatist. His means will vary ; his outlook 
on life, the preponderance of certain gifts, 
natural bias towards tragedy or comedy, will 
shape his development as an artist, but one 
thing alone will mark him great. 

If his art be like a flame that burns up 
the smallness of man's motives, if his wit can 



disperse his musty opinions and make him a 
hearty, emotional human it is well, and the 
means are not important. 

Nevertheless it is the intention of this book 
to advocate a fuller development of our drama, 
especially on its musical and folk festival side, 
and to explain this technical evolution. And 
in using the term " musical" let it be said at 
once that it is this quality in Shakespeare that 
makes him supreme. He does not use words 
for mere argument, but as Beethoven uses 
sound. And it is because all the arts seem 
to have come together in Shakespeare that he 
is to be taken as the very centre of the Merrie 
England Movement. 

In the great days of the Greek drama its 
first function was ceremonial and religious. 
It was the ritual of a human religion, whose 
tenets were emotional, just as the ritual of a 
modern Church is the ceremonial of divine or 
revealed belief. 

In the days of the Shakespeare Revival 
the Renaissance, if you will the drama was 
the popular festival, the holiday feast of a lusty 
nation, clean of mind and limb. 

To-day he would be a bold man who dare 
attempt to define in a phrase the relation of 
our drama to life. 



The two subjects are divided, though we 
strive to bring them together. 

The whole tendency of an advanced civilisa- 
tion is overwork and specialism on the one 
hand, and overplay and idleness on the other. 

In Germany Bayreuth keeps alive a national 
spirit, centring around Wagner. 

Oberammergau holds the Festival of the 
Passion. Festivals of a purely musical kind 
are held in cathedral cities and great manu- 
facturing centres. But nowhere have all these 
things come together. The man of leisure 
can travel and obtain them for himself. 

But they have never been brought together 
in one place. Their value depends upon three 

They give pleasure, and a dramatic festival 
combines the advantages of a country holiday 
with the enjoyment of the theatre. 

All great art is national and religious in 
origin, therefore a bond between men of the 
same blood. 

The laughter and pity of the human soul are 
universal and cosmic, therefore common ground 
for men and women of all creeds or races. 

Everything at Stratford is English to the 
core, but not insular. It appeals to the Anglo- 
Celt, in fact to the whole Aryan race. 


Photo by IV. & D. Doivney 



Beginning from Shakespeare the scope of 
the Festival has extended, and it is the pur- 
pose of this book to show that the drama is 
but a focussing of the soul upon interesting 
things. And the more bound up with the 
varied interests of life the more we need a 
common expression of our national spirit in 
Festival and Song. And if in this book we 
go beyond the intentions or scope of the 
Governors 1 wishes, let it not be imputed to 
us for evil. 

This book is the expression of that non- 
political but progressive spirit that is giving 
the country new ideas in art and life. And 
all these new ideas are as old as the hills. 
Therein lies the need for drama. In the 
works of the great sages the universal wisdom 
and inspiration of the people lie sleeping. 
When you are downtrodden and oppressed a 
world's pity is yours, and your heavy hours 
may be lightened by laughter. Our pride and 
peculiarities receive the lash of comedy, and 
our brotherhood with all men is made plain 
in folk-plays and the song and dance of the 

65 E 



WE have seen how primitive song and dance 
revealed primal and elemental feeling, and 
how among the Greeks these things developed 
into a religious art expressive of the beliefs 
and ideas of the people. And in Greek folk- 
song to this day one may trace the inter- 
weaving of Hellenic and Christian conceptions. 
In these examples of peasant art, which are 
moreover the groundwork of modern literature 
in Athens, the words Olympos and Bethlehem 
appear in close proximity. 

The connection is not so clearly defined in 
our own literature, but the developments are 
quite as interesting. 

It is wrong to suppose that the Elizabethan 
age produced Shakespeare. However lusty, 
brave, and imaginative a period may be, genius 
is individual. 

Had Shakespeare lived at the time of 
Boadicea, he would have been a chanting 
bard leading armies, and calls to " Lay on/' 



or " To be or not to be ? " would have sounded 
on the field and at the war council. 

Had he been contemporary with Euripides, 
Sophocles, and Aeschylus, "Macbeth" would 
have been a one-act play, with no change of 
scene, and it would have been filled with 
references to many gods. As it is, Banquo's 
ghost, the " trees of Birnam wood/' and the 
witches, are far from Greek in conception. 
Witches and ghosts are English to the tips 
of their broomsticks and the depths of their 
shadows. Walking trees would have been 
unthinkable in so orderly and philosophic a 
place as Athens. 

Once indicate the nature of the pre-Shake- 
speare drama, and we have the key to the 
whole situation. 

The English drama came into being through 
the Church. Among savages such an institu- 
tion did not exist, while in Athens it was 
identical with the theatre. The temples of 
the gods were for sacrifice : the theatre for 
dramatic rites and worship. 

In mediaeval England the Mass stood to 
the people as an expression of divine things. 
But, being in Latin, the religious rites required 
popular interpretation and found it in the play. 
When Bibles were unknown, and later when 


they were scarce, the clergy became actors, 
the elder taking the men's parts and young 
men the women's. And it is interesting to 
note that the drama of Japan had a similar 
origin and nature, and that women likewise 
were at that time debarred from dramatic 
work. These biblical plays had their origin 
in very remote ages. Shortly after the destruc- 
tion of the temple at Jerusalem the absence 
of the usual worship was met with a play in 
Greek. Though the writer was a Jew named 
Ezekiel, it is significant to us that the language 
of Hellas was used. Its origin was classic 
rather than Jewish. 

But English drama, if in this sense Greek 
in origin, has been from the first a product 
of the folk. Whether in song or dance or 
the early biblical plays, or Shakespeare's own 
works, it comes from the soil. 

In France the opposite has been the case. 
Racine and Corneille based their works on 
classic models. All such attempts in this 
country have led to failure. 

The dramatic instincts of Christians had 
gone to the building up of a ritual. The life 
and sacrifice of Christ provided the basis of 
a system of symbolism, expressed in action 
and by Latin words. 



What could be more natural than to make 
the meaning clear to an unlettered peasantry 
through acted scenes either in the church itself 
or in the churchyard ? 

The great festivals were of course Christmas 
and Easter. Easter had been a pagan feast, 
and it actually happened that the flowers offered 
in the old Floralia, or again -in the Northern 
worship of Freia, were devoted as an Easter 
offering to the risen Christ. 

Some writers believe that the fact that our 
Christian festivals are, in nearly every case, 
grafted upon some old pagan ceremony, robs 
them of their original and sacred nature. But 
I rejoice to think that each offering that we 
make has not only its divine but its human 
significance : that when I remember the bounty 
of the Giver at harvest-time I am not unmind- 
ful of Erda, the Earth - mother, in whom I 
have community with the folk, with those who 
are dead, or alive, or who yet are to be. I have 
kinship with every man or woman who says 
" Our Father," who in any way believes in the 
brotherhood of man. 

The dramas of "The Three Maries" and of 
" The Descent into Hell " were among the first 
of their kind. The former was known in the 
tenth century, while the latter is mentioned 


in " Piers Plowman." Of "The Descent" 
we have records. On Easter Eve a procession 
was formed outside the church. Approaching 
one of the doors a character representing Christ 
knocked. The guardian or porter of hell 
sought to dissuade him from entering. But 
at last the Master, victorious, broke through 
and burst the gates. 

On Easter Monday a similar charade or 
parable took place, dealing with the walk to 

The early play of "The Three Kings" at 
first was a simple ceremonial for Christmas 
in which the kings standing on the altar steps 
greeted the new-born babe. The way in which 
these works developed explains the power of 
a Church which, despite Roman ritual, appealed 
to the national and human character of the 
people at a time when the peasantry and many 
of the nobility could not write. This was no 
case of blind superstition, as some suppose, 
but of a human and national form of religion 
supplementing the mystic and sacramental. 
This early art was popular because it grew 
out of the folk. The play of " The Three 
Maries" was built up until it included a 
dramatic concept of Herod and his doings. In 
a MS. of 1060 the part is written down. He 



is portrayed as a bombastic and opinionated 
fellow, subject to brain storms and maniacal 
temper. Hence Shakespeare's allusion in 
" Hamlet'' to those who " out-Herod Herod." 
And the Herod of "Salome" is revealed by 
Richard Strauss to-day as the neurotic scion 
of a degenerate race. 

Characterisation such as this was bound to 
burst the boundary wall of illustrated scrip- 

Though they ceased to be part of the actual 
services of the Church, an intimate relationship 
continued. The Mysteries were plays dealing 
with the Scriptures, while Miracle plays were 
based upon the lives of the saints. The first 
of the latter was said to have been written by 
a Benedictine nun, Hroswitha. Though a 
German, living in the reign of Otto the Great, 
in Saxony, she wrote in Latin. About 1125 
Hilarius was writing Latin plays with occasional 
lapses into the common speech. He was an 
Englishman who studied under Abelard, and 
his plays included works on Darius and David, 
" The Raising of Lazarus," and, of course, a 
nativity play, " St. Nicholas." 

"It was performed on the Feast of the 
Saint, when an actor was dressed to represent 
the image of St. Nicholas, and stood in a niche 


in the church. To the shrine came a wealthy 
heathen who, before taking a journey, com- 
mitted his treasure to the keeping of the Saint. 
But thieves entered, and on the heathen's 
return the Saint stood guardian over a rifled 
hold. Furious, he took a whip and lashed 
the image, which thereupon assumed life, 
descended, and accusing the robbers, bade 
them restore their plunder. As all are amazed 
at this marvel, lo, the inanimate image is once 
more 'silent stone, the Saint himself appears, 
and preaches Christ. The whole is typical of 
the mediaeval mind, which not only creates 
what it desires, but equally eliminates what 
displeases it." 1 

The whole point of true dramatic art lies in 
that last sentence. As Wagner put it, the 
artist creates for himself a vision of the future 
and longs to be contained therein. Or better, 
let us create an ideal concept of life in the 
present, and let our practical, matter-of-fact 
nation see to it that everyday life is up to 
the standard of our dreams. Of course, the 
modern dramatist, with a few exceptions, aims 
at nothing but " striking situations/' Neither 
he nor the manager, nor the poor, patient 

1 " English Miracle Plays," by E. Hamilton Moore. (Sherratt 
and Hughes.) 



public take the thing seriously, and even the 
jokes are painfully evolved to " bring down 
the house/' So that the " patient playgoer" 
of to-day would have been very much at sea 
in the Middle Ages when people took things 
cheerfully and seriously. 

When one looks at the childhood of the 
Middle Ages one fears that our own period is 
one of " middle age." 

This was going on all over Europe. Bohemia 
had its Sepulchre plays, with a prayer for the 
welfare of the folk. For the emotion was 
national as well as religious. The Passion 
Play of Oberammergau alone has survived, if 
we except the " Punch and Judy" show, which 
of course is a corrupt version of the play of 
" Pontius Pilate." By "corrupt" I mean no 
offence, for never do I miss a chance of 
witnessing this ancient diversion. 

One feature about these old plays, which 
seems to me of the greatest importance, is that 
they were played by communities representing 
trades and occupations. For in modern times 
the stage has become so remote from actuality 
that not only are the events without meaning 
and the dialogue without inspiration, but the 
actors are, for the most part, competitive 
specialists, taking no interest save in their 



own professional skill and the consequent 
applause and pay. The play of " Noah's 
Deluge " was performed most appropriately by 
the water-leaders and drawers of the Dee, not 
by a number of isolated units, who knew more 
about grease-paints than water. 

The barbers and wax-chandlers of Chester 
did a work in which appeared " God, Abraham, 
Lot, Isaac, and Melchisedec." Why they did 
this I cannot say, but they would be the better 
barbers for it, and their candles would burn as 

The shepherds of Wakefield did a Nativity 
play, which is a delightful example of a quality 
which is the great glory of folk-art. It com- 
bines rustic buffoonery with true religious feel- 
ing. The shepherds were Yorkshire peasants, 
and, though the author probably was a monk, 
the transition from Wakefield to Bethlehem 
has the simple inevitability of a game played 
by children. 

Turning to the Coventry Cycle, one finds 
the shearmen engaged in a Nativity play. The 
prophet Isaiah is the Prologue, who, in a 
manner by no means unworthy of Isaiah, sets 
out his prophecy. This in the natural sequence 
is fulfilled by the Angel Gabriel. From this 
point the play is full of interest and beauty, 



though the rustic humour of the Yorkshire 
shepherds is lacking. And we cannot but 
believe that the people were nearer to God 
and to the humour and mystery of life in those 
days. Popular amusement was based upon 
Truth, upon the setting forth of vital ideas in 
dramatic form. 

By the end of the fourteenth century the 
English countryside was alive with drama, 
though it is very regrettable that Wycliffe and 
the " reformers" stood out against a freedom 
of religious expression which of course should 
have appealed to their own zeal. In fact, 
any shortcomings of their own deeds, and the 
narrowness that led to so bitter a religious 
struggle, may be set down to a certain lack of 
broad humanity in their attitude to the freedom 
of the early drama. The cause must have 
suffered, and certainly the drama fell into 

The Corpus Christi Festival often was 
a national ceremony, as when Richard II. 
beheld the plays at York in 1397. The feast 
certainly tended to become a mere revel, and 
to restore the true nature of Corpus Christi, 
on the loth of June 1426, the Mayor, Peter 
Buckley, and the citizens of York decreed that 
the Sacramental procession should take place 



on the vigil of the feast, and the play should 
be performed on the actual day. This proves, 
I think, that the original nature of English 
drama, like the Greek, was religious, and that 
in separating Church and Stage a foolish step 
was taken. 

The last performance of this York Cycle 
took place in 1584, and it was in 1588 that 
Shakespeare wrote "Love's Labour Lost." 

The link between these early national plays 
and the labours of the Elizabethans is un- 
broken. The original MSS. of the York plays 
was in all probability destroyed by Archbishop 
Grindal, though Queen Elizabeth gave every 
encouragement to the playwright and to nobles 
who were willing to act as patrons to the Art 
of Drama. 

The outstanding note of the period was the 
unity of all classes where plays were concerned. 
Being thoroughly popular, they were, in the 
absence of the press, veritable " chronicles of 
the times." 

For many years the lost art of the Mysteries 
and Moralities lingered in Cornwall. There, 
in open-air theatres, plays of the Creation, the 
Passion, and the Resurrection were performed 
tt> a people to whom the modern theatre of 
Shakespeare was unknown. They were more 


mythical in conception and broader in dramatic 
resource than those of the other cycles. And 
there is every reason to suppose that anti- 
phonal hymns on the lines of the Greek chorus 
were used. This means that quite a large 
body of the people took part, as in the modern 
choral society, a fact worth remembering when 
we consider the relation of modern choral art 
to the stage. 

The various Craft Guilds continued their 
religious plays even when Protestantism had 
effectively censored Roman Catholic works, 
thus maintaining a catholicity apart from any 
definite party. 

The folk, being by nature dramatic, would 
not give up a source of inspiration so full of 
pleasure and self-expression. 

It was inevitable that the Elizabethan theatre, 
centring at the Globe and Blackfriars in London, 
but taking root also at the houses and castles 
of nobles all over the country, should to some 
extent curb the creative spirit of the folk-play. 
The revival of the Elizabethan stage was a 
forward step that naturally left much that was 
good in the lurch. 

But not only was the folk-play overshadowed. 
The classical models had been followed by 
those to whom European travel and culture had 



revealed the possibilities of polite art. And 
naturally the nobles and elegants who tried to 
imitate the classics without the genius of the 
old authors, provided a very cold dish for 
dilettanti and dabblers. 

However crude the folk-plays were, and 
they were not nearly so unskilful as might be 
supposed, they have retained an interest and 
vitality to this day. Were I to record the 
doings of the " classicist" school the reader of 
to-day would lose patience. 

The secular drama of Shakespeare broke in 
like a " sou'-wester." I am not at all sure 
whether the victory was not too complete, and 
that the old Craft Guild plays should not be 
revived, as indeed has been the case with 
" Everyman " revivals. Perhaps it would be 
better to start again from the beginning, on 
the lines of the modern village plays. 

A careful study of their possibilities would 
form part of the literary adviser's work, at the 
Memorial Theatre, were any such policy decided 
upon by the Governors. 

For a musical quality may be found in these 
old plays, a feature seldom mentioned by those 
whose business it should be to reveal the 
natural beauties of our arts. I have believed 
for a long time that the finest work could never 



be popular so long as it remained merely 
literary, musical, or pictorial. 

The literary tradition of Shakespeare almost 
succeeded in banishing him from the theatre to 
the schoolroom and lecture-hall. 

On the other hand the qualities of music and 
dance appeal strongly to the people. When 
these qualities are absent from the drama 
popular interest is driven away. The public 
never were or ever can be interested in art 
unless in some way they come into touch with 
human and festive conditions. 

Until for the purposes of this study I looked 
fairly closely into the matter I did not know 
to what an extent history had repeated itself. 
If we look at these old dramas not only is 
dramatic action and song present in a simple 
form, but the very setting of them, in churches 
or in the open air, forces us back to nature and 
simplicity of stage-craft. Simple realism upon 
the stage is right. A restful scene, or the 
symbolism of a church, the essentially English 
character of a scene in the garden of a castle, 
brings back the modern stage-manager from 
the amazing uselessness of an elaborate setting 
in which no one has the faintest belief. 

The only exception to this is, of course, 
pageantry, a form of display that does not aim 



at spectacular realism, but at generous and 
romantic festivity. 

This union of the arts in their simplest 
forms, for the pleasure of the people, is the 
peculiar glory of Stratford, and is destined in 
ever greater degree to be her contribution to 
the world-history of the stage. This the 
critics are beginning to observe, and the re- 
search of scholars reveals the beginning of the 
movement in pre-Shakespearean days. 

In the chapters upon Shakespeare I shall 
show how musical were his devices, and how 
essentially scenic his conceptions, that his 
particular form of art lay midway between the 
eternal rightness of the primitive folk-drama 
and the wider developments which led to the 
modern music drama. 

Scholars like Mr. Sidney Lee, and special 
pleaders on the lines of Mr. Frank Harris, have 
done their best to explain Shakespeare. But 
the stumbling-block always has been that the 
people have not met them half-way, as would 
have been the case had simpler forms of drama, 
and a general conception of the interplay of 
the arts, put them into close touch with his 

For instance, whenever songs occur in a 
Shakespearean work, the action stops dead, 


Photo by L. Caswall Smith 



and a virtuoso display takes place. Then the 
drama ambles on. 

Yet if we look at " Childermas Day," a 
miracle play done in the year 1512, a musical 
epilogue followed, which either was a choral 
dance or led up to a dance in which the audience 
joined. Thus the gulf was bridged between 
audience and player, much as is the case with 
Miss Neal's folk-dances. 

Of course this could not be done in the 
regular theatre, though the spirit of it would 
bind the player and audience more closely. 
Children were trained to sing in these plays 
so that music must have been an integral part 
of them. 

These children also took part in the acting, 
a most human influence both for the children 
and the drama. The late Mr. Goddard assured 
us that in "The Adoration of the Shepherds" 
(in the Towneley collection of plays) part- 
singing was used. 

Therefore we have authority in advocating 
the union of the arts, and in setting up an ideal 
of the theatre much wider than that of the 
specialised spoken play. It will be seen later 
that Shakespeare's art is above all rhapsodic, 
and a form of song, inasmuch as all the 
essential features of folk-art are to be found in 

81 F 


his dramas, richer and more sonorous, more 
pliable and fluent, but not to be confused with 
classical verse, nor their golden coinage to be 
debased by the silver of stilted declamation, 
nor the tinsel of realistic display. 




OUR century is the high tide of the personal 
equation. And for that reason I want the 
reader to enter into a conspiracy. Let us 
imagine that we have just discovered Shake- 
speare ; that his works have been banished 
from the stage and his name forgotten. Then 
let us discuss his personality and his accom- 
plishments. By this I cast no slur upon critical 
scholarship, which has taught us many things. 
Without such men as Sidney Lee, the late 
Dr. Furnival, Edward Dowden, Israel Gol- 
lancz, and others ; and without the band of 
Extension lecturers, we should not have the 
educational forces of the world on the side 
of popular drama. Shakespeare might, like 
Marlowe, Chapman, Dekker, Ben Jonson, 
and Tourneur, be cut off from the traffic of 
the stage. Happily the scholar has not shunned 
the playwright. 

And in dealing with the personal aspect 



of the man, I shall be forced to rely some- 
what upon Mr. Frank Harris, who is at war 
with the professors. The reason that I do 
so is simple. Harris has emphasised the 
humanity of Shakespeare, and we owe him 
thanks for that. 

Most of us believe that Shakespeare was 
himself; a number of people think that he 
was Bacon ; and a very select circle are quite 
sure that he was the Duke of Rutland. To 
Sir Edwin Durning Lawrence, William Shake- 
speare was an illiterate fool, who lent his name 
to a gentleman who produced literature of a 
peculiarly streaky variety. But the certainty of 
the Baconian has met its match in Mr. Harris, 
whose book, "The Man Shakespeare," deals 
boldly with the personal possibilities of the 

In my summary of his life, in my suggestions 
as to the possible motives of his works, I am 
indebted to him and to the late Thomas Tyler, 
who spent many years in tracing the fable and 
fact of the poet's career. 

He was the son of John Shakespeare, dealer 
in leather, meat, and skins, at Stratford-upon- 
Avon. Succeeding in business, John married 
Mary Arden, who was of a well-known old 
Catholic family. In 1568 John Shakespeare 


became bailiff of Stratford, and during his 
year of office encouraged visiting companies 
of actors. That was four years after the birth 
of their first son, William, who was born on 
April 23, 1 1564. He had free education at 
Stratford Grammar School, and at the age of 
thirteen began to work for his father, who was 
in financial straits. His Latin and Greek pro- 
bably were small, but, at the same time, not 
less than that of the popular actor or dramatist 
of to-day. By 1586 his father's ruin was com- 
plete, and William Shakespeare, according to 
Rowe, ran wild among companions as idle as 
himself. But they were active upon occasion, 
and the old tale of the poet's prosecution by 
Sir Thomas Lucy for deer-stealing is a probable 
one. So far the dramatist's training had been 
admirable. Poverty, low companions, and ir- 
regular schooling are better bases for creative 
literature than a strictly academic career. 

It is customary to regard a certain coarse- 
ness that one finds in Shakespeare as char- 
acteristic of the period. A study of Lyly and 
the Euphuists fails to bear this out. The 
polite literature of the day was polite. The 
Queen, the men of action, and the modern school 

1 This, though certainly the day of his death, probably is the 
birthday also. 



of playwrights beginning with Marlowe, were 
rough and outspoken in speech, and in action 
unrestrained. So was Shakespeare at the 
beginning of his career, and only towards the 
end do we find his rude joy in life and speech 
becoming mellowed by age and suffering. He 
was like Nature herself, full of the impulse 
of Spring, the prodigality of generous Summer, 
the deeper tints of Autumn. An early death 
prevented the cold of Winter from chilling his 
blood or frosting the ripe fruit of his genius. 

Concerning his marriage various opinions 
have been set forth. But the most probable 
is that the Hathaway wedding was a mistake 
that drove the poet in upon himself and made 
a man of him. 

On November 27, 1582, the Bishop of 
Worcester signed a licence for a marriage 
between William Shakespeare and Anne 
Whately. Two farmers, Sandell and Richard- 
son, bound themselves in a surety of ^40 to 
safeguard the Bishop in case of a " just cause 
or impediment." This was forthcoming, inas- 
much as Shakespeare was compelled to sub- 
stitute Anne Hathaway, with whom he had 
become entangled, for Anne Whately, whom 
his free will had sought. In a word, the 
marriage licence held good, but there was a 



change in the bride. On May 26, 1583, a 
daughter was born to them, but the marriage 
was unhappy. In " Twelfth Night" Shake- 
speare gives one key to the trouble : 

" Let still the woman take 
An elder than herself; so wears she to him." 

Shakespeare required a wife whom he could 
mould, and a youth of eighteen finds it hard 
to drive a woman of twenty-six. In 1585, 
following close upon the birth of twins, Shake- 
speare left Anne and Stratford, nor did he 
return until some ten years later. Evidently 
the poet determined to be free at all costs, 
and for ever. 

The nature of his domestic troubles may 
be surmised by comparison with another great 
dramatist of similar aims and scope. 

Having closely examined the abundant evi- 
dence in the case of Wagner and his unhappy 
first marriage, I should be inclined to say that 
Anne Hathaway, like Minna Planer, had a way 
most trying to a young egoistic artist such as 
Shakespeare no doubt was. 

Though the evidence is scanty, it is clear 
that the poet left Stratford for London, and 
that his wife did not accompany him. 

When Shakespeare was twenty-three "a 



company of actors, under the nominal patron- 
age of the Queen and Lord Leicester, visited 
Stratford." Burbage was in it, and would no 
doubt discuss the question of London, which 
would have great attractions for an unsettled 
young man. There is a story to the effect 
that Shakespeare ran away, held horses at the 
Blackfriars Theatre, and became a playwright 
in the intervals between holding horses. 

That he should not at once come to his own, 
that a hack playwright like Greene should de- 
scribe him as " Shake-scene," is not surprising. 
He came to know the theatre in every phase 
and feature by practical experience. But it 
was probably to his early poems that he looked 
for success, and only gradually realised what 
an instrument the free stage of Elizabeth might 
be for a new kind of art. For Shakespeare 
was, for a time at least, the Richard Strauss 
of England, which accounts for his slow pro- 
gress. In this day, when half the art of 
Shakespeare is clouded beneath fustian, the 
symphonic character of his construction is lost. 
Yet never could he have been so utterly wasted 
as this story suggests. 

It is improbable for several reasons. Shake- 
speare was a member of a good family. Until 
his father lost his money, which probably was 



due to religious persecution, the Shakespeares 
were well-to-do. And then the Ardens were 
among the most important people of the 
county. Of sound burgher stock on the one 
hand, and something better on the maternal 
side of the family, it is unlikely that William 
Shakespeare, however out of favour, would 
have gone to town without introductions. And 
to a man of his abilities it is not likely that his 
friends would allot menial work. Who were 
those friends ? 

One of them would be Ralph Hewins, a 
governor of the Virginia Company. Indeed 
it was a descendant of this gentleman, Mr. 
W. A. S. Hewins, who reminded me of a 
fact easily forgotten by writers of the present 
day. Under the old highway system, at each 
parish a vagabond might be detained in the 
house of correction, and had William Shake- 
speare run away without money or credentials, 
his career would have been dramatic in another 
sense. So that Shakespeare came to London 
as most men come, with some sort of prospects. 

Whether he came as a recruit with Burbage, 
or later, armed with letters of introduction, 
does not matter. 

That Ralph Hewins would be available in 
case of need cannot be proved. But it is a 


fact that members of the families of Sandell 
and Richardson, the names of the witnesses 
to Shakespeare's marriage, appear in the Bret- 
forton Parish Register (British Museum) as 
witnesses to Hewins' wills. This forms some 
sort of link. 

Both the Ardens and the Hewins (which 
word, by the way, has more than eighty varia- 
tions of spelling, Euens, &c.) were Catholic 
families. Ralph Hewins, too, was a cousin of 
Sir G. Calvert (first Lord Baltimore), and was 
connected through Virginia Company business 
with the Earl of Southampton. The adven- 
turous spirit of the age struck home. Without 
the vivid interest so early kindled by the colo- 
nising skill of the people, "The Tempest" 
might never have received so fair a setting. 
With men of mark to aid him in case of need 
Shakespeare no doubt joined the theatrical 
profession low down. But he entered by the 
stage door, and did not stand with the horses. 
Probably he began as actor, and gradually 
found occasion to show his qualities as an 
adapter of plays. 

This preoccupation with the practical busi- 
ness of the stage had a singular result. As a 
rule the man who at an early age comes into 
touch with the theatre becomes a part of the 



machinery, accepts its traditions, and ceases to 
think for himself. 

But, looking at Shakespeare's beginnings, 
what do we find ? 

In " Love's Labour Lost," produced in 1588, 
and therefore the first of his dramas, the scene 
opens thus, as the King, Biron, and the others 
enter : 

" King. Let Fame, that all hunt after in their lives, 
Live registered upon our brazen tombs, 
And then grace us in the disgrace of death ; 
When, spite of cormorant devouring time, 
The endeavour of this present breath may buy 
That honour, which shall bate his scythe's keen 

And make us heirs of all eternity." 

Now take any pre- Shakespearean play. 
Many of them begin with prologues. " Gor- 
boduc," by Norton and Sackville, leads off 
with an allegorical pantomime, accompanied 
by music. Marlowe opens " Tamburlaine " 
thus : 

" I find myself aggrieved 
Yet insufficient to express the same, 
For it requires a great and thundering speech ! " 

Shakespeare begins his first play with a 
speech about Fame, just as Wagner, in his 


early opera, " Rienzi," sets forth with blare 
and blaze. It was not until I had copied these 
lines that I discovered that the identical passage 
had struck Mr. Harris, though he had not seen 
fit to take the comparison further. 

Now nearly all these dramatists began either 
with a descriptive speech (in lieu of elaborate 
scenery), or dumb show. Marlowe believes in 
a " thundering speech/' but Shakespeare begins 
on the personal note, and develops musically. 

If you care to look at the opening speeches 
of Shakespeare's plays, he always opens in this 

By " musically" I mean that he leads off, 
not with a wordy description or a piece of 
dumb show in the manner of his time, but 
strikes a chord, as it were, from which he 
develops gradually. We hear a great deal 
about the looseness of construction of the 
plays as compared with their rich value in 
thought. This is not the case at all. Shake- 
speare was first of all a musician by tempera- 
ment not a logician. He had many threads 
of ideas weaving themselves amongst his pages, 
as in the " scores " of a Wagner or Strauss. 

Now Mr. Harris has noted this philosophic 
thread. Wrongly, in my opinion, he attributes 
this to the dramatist's weaving of' personal 



autobiographical details into the woof of his 

Of course a man must draw upon his own 
consciousness for his ideas, but at least as 
many of those ideas will be imaginary as actual 

When Hamlet bade Ophelia "Get thee to a 
nunnery," he was evincing the feeling that all 
literary men experience when love hinders 
their work. He was not necessarily recording 
a similar scene in an actual love affair of his own. 

Shakespeare had come to know life in every 
phase at a period of intellectual activity, of 
national and artistic renaissance. Therefore 
he was not satisfied to write mechanical, ex- 
citing plays, but sought, perhaps instinctively, 
to colour them. And this colour took two 
forms. His ideas upon life are woven like 
many coloured strands of silk through a 
tapestry upon which his action is portrayed 
boldly. And the wealth of verbal music 
apparent in his early poems, such as "Venus 
and Adonis," is the musical medium by which 
the fabric is made all of one piece. 

There has been much talk of this structural 
looseness. But, viewed from this standpoint, 
there is none. The charge vanishes. Once 
admit that Shakespeare used word and scene 



musically, the existence of a plain matter-of- 
fact drama of brief talk and quick action no 
longer need be demanded. 

As well might one cut out the music of an 
opera and leave only the words and action. 
That is what I mean by the symphonic use 
of words a simultaneous development of the 
body of the play and its soul the " play 
beyond the play." 

This gives at once the secret of Shake- 
speare's power to please the child and charm 
the scholar, to feast the eye and ear and at 
the same time to satisfy the soul. 

By this means his characters are developed 
so that, without undue explanation or use of 
allegory, each is a type or symbol, from 
Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, to Falstaff, Polo- 
nius, Caliban, Prospero, Beatrice, Benedict, 
and Jaques. 

If proof be needed of a quality apparent in the 
plays, it is to be found in his attitude to music. 

Take the lines of " Twelfth Night " : 

" If Music be the food of Love, play on ; 
Give me excess of it, that surfeiting 
The appetite may sicken and so die. 
That strain again ; it had a dying fall : 
Oh, it came o'er my ear like the sweet south 
That breathes upon a bank of violets/* 


Not only does Shakespeare write about music ; 
he hears it, and fain would make his words 
more than words becoming orchestral. Thus 
he writes words which have no sense, no 
practical meaning, save the conjuring up of a 
musical mood. 

In his day, when chamber music among the 
rich and folk-songs everywhere were common, 
his audience would realise the suggestion. 
Therefore, at his great lyrical moments, instead 
of working up to a situation and bringing down 
the curtain with a bang, he wafts this allur- 
ing spell of suggested music. In "The 
Tempest " : 

" This music crept by me upon the waters 
Allaying both their fury and their passion, 
With its sweet air." 

In early plays such as " Much Ado About 
Nothing" songs are introduced. And in " The 
Tempest," when the master had reached the 
point at which we may do " what we will," Ariel 
trips the earth. 

My case is proved, so I will pass briefly to 
the one remaining quality of Shakespeare, 
which is not as a rule recognised his mysti- 
cism. There is nothing decadent about the 
man, nor does he stop at a general recognition 



of God such as, in all ages, satisfies the general 
body of men, including dramatic authors. 

The Ardens were Catholics, and the fact of 
John Shakespeare's financial straits, at a period 
in history when well-found burgesses did not 
lose their position suddenly, points to religious 
persecution in his case. For it was no time of 

Shakespeare probably did not take any 
risks. His mystical allusions and reference 
to prayers (as in Desdemona's death scene) 
are never exclusively Catholic, but they are 
not the reflections of a plain " unsuperstitious 
man." Just about that time the Rosicrucians 
were making themselves felt, and it was said 
that Bacon was among their earliest inquirers. 
Not only the Catholic but the Lutheran type 
of Nonconformist was a mystic. Therefore 
the universal and godly mysticism of Shakes- 
peare was in keeping with the popular feeling 
at its best. 

And if this theory be sound, coupled with 
the idea of musical development, it accounts 
for the quality of his plays. Where he is not 
dominated by one or other of these qualities, 
music and mysticism, he is given to platitude 
as are all Englishmen. 

"To be or not to be, that is the question?" 

Photo by IV. & D. Downey 



is common alike to the lover or the stock- 
broker. " Is she the one woman?" "What 
will Wall Street do?" Many of his famous 
utterances have this direct simplicity of the 
non-committal Englishman. 

His reverence for law and order, his evident 
delight in pageantry and Court life, would 
never have set him beside Goethe and above 
Dante, with Beethoven and akin to Wagner. 

Faith, not slavish but ingrained, and Love, 
not sentimental but passionate even lawless 
have moulded for us a man, who is an in- 
strument in spheral Hands. 

What was this love of his? After leaving 
Stratford his relations with his wife were 
broken. In his will his "second best bed" 
alone was left to her. The explanation has 
been sought in Mary Fitton, the Dark Lady 
of the Sonnets. 

Mary Fitton was the second daughter of Sir 
Edward Fitton, of Gawsworth, Cheshire. In 
1595 she was one of the maids of honour to 
Queen Elizabeth, at whose Court she made 
a great stir. In 1600, Lord Herbert, son of 
the Earl of Worcester, married another maid 
of honour. The Queen attended the ceremony, 
and Mary Fitton took part in the masque 
that followed, and also led the dancing. Her 

97 G 


relationship with William Herbert, Earl of Pem- 
broke, is well known. Her life at Court was 
what we should describe as dissolute ; she and 
her nobleman lover had a narrow escape of im- 
prisonment. Nor does it appear that she was 
faithful even to him. Therefore, the argument 
that Mary could not be the object of Shake- 
speare's lyrical passion does not hold good. 
Indeed, in 1607 s ^e married Captain William 
Polwhele, and she is also mentioned in con- 
temporary records as the wife of Captain 
Lougher. Neither of these, it would seem, 
was more important in his day than Shake- 
speare, who probably moved in a Bohemian 
way among all grades of society, from the 
lowest to the highest. Her own interest in 
acting would, no doubt, bring her into direct 
contact with him. And if, as seems likely, the 
" Mr. W. H." to whom Shakespeare dedicated 
the sonnets was William Herbert, it is quite 
conceivable that he was in love with her and 
sought this strange means of making his passion 
known without undue offence to his friend. 
Mr. Sidney Lee has described the theory as 
" fantastic," and there are certainly anomalies. 
Mary is described as having " a long nose, and 
narrow face, and a weak, rounded, retiring 
chin," and to be moreover fair. Now it is just 


possible that Shakespeare used the terms 
" dark " or " black " with regard to her repu- 
tation, which at one time was both. This 
symbolism, too, would have made it easier 
for him to dedicate the Sonnets to her lover, 
while Mary herself would understand. The 
following sonnet bears this interpretation, 
though he would be a bold man to insist 
unduly upon any theory in a matter that has 
so little evidence to show : 

" In the old age black was not counted fair, 
Or if it were, it bore not beauty's name ; 
But now is black beauty's successive heir, 
And beauty slander'd with a bastard shame ; 
For since each hand hath put on nature's power, 
Fairing the foul with art's false borrowed face, 
Sweet beauty hath no name, no holy bower, 
But is profan'd, if not lives in disgrace. 
Therefore my mistress' eyes are raven black, 
Her eyes so suited ; and they mourners seem 
At such, who, not born fair, no beauty lack, 
Slandering creation with a false esteem : 
Yet so they mourn, becoming of their woe, 
That every tongue says, beauty should look so." 

In his special plea, " The Man Shakespeare/' 
Mr. Harris goes so far as to claim that in his 
plays Shakespeare is consciously self-revealed. 
This is a much more sensible supposition than 



those by which the plays are reduced to the 
level of a Baconian Chinese puzzle. But one 
must accept the theory with caution, for equally 
it is certain that Shakespeare, becoming in- 
terested in various phases of life, desires to 
reveal them, though incidentally dipping into 
the palette of his own heart. No man who 
had not known jealousy could have written 
" Othello/' Othello is the outcast, the 
Bohemian rather than the Moor, who has to 
give up his love to those covered by the 
whiteness of nobility. The Court of Elizabeth 
was full of snobs. 

Hamlet, in this limited sense, may be a 
portrait of the poet. The inconsistency and 
the curious compounding of decadence ; of in- 
terest in art ; the artistic desire to work up 
the " play-scene" till the Court is staggered by 
its reality ; are actual and authentic revelations 
of a man whose whole life was an attempt 
to visualise himself and his philosophy, and 
to make the world stare. 

I shall never forget Irving in "Coriolanus," 
for it revealed, as no reading might, Shake- 
speare's opinion of the people or " crowd," the 
"wisdom of whose choice is rather to have 
one's hat than one's heart." Shakespeare's 
attitude to Falstaff, even to lago, is more 



tolerant than to the mob, who have no in- 
dividuality, but yet are units. 

As a rule some great motive such as fate, 
ambition, or the great darkness of " Lear," 
dominates the whole drama. But Mr. Harris 
holds that Mary Fitton and Shakespeare him- 
self provide the very basis upon which the 
great fabric of the plays was reared. There 
may have been much of Malvolio in him as 
well as Hamlet and Othello. Jaques and 
Romeo, too, were in him. And the last of his 
great works, " The Tempest," contains surely 
a picture of Shakespeare in his own person, 
which Extension lecturers used to sanction. It 
is to be hoped that the boldness of Mr. Harris's 
books will not have driven people to deny this 
vital fact. For in Prospero we see Shake- 
speare at the height of his powers, his life 
" shipwrecked," yet still ruling a realm of fancy 
and of faery, beside which the kingdoms of 
this world are as dust. 



IN discussing Shakespeare from the plain man's 
point of view it must not be thought that 
scholarship in any way is underrated. At the 
same time the Stratford movement, though 
having behind it the steadying power of 
scholarship, is above all things popular. 

Shakespeare is important to us not because 
he was a unique Englishman, but because he 
is the typical Englishman. His reverence for 
custom and pomp, his talk about love and 
wine, the fact that he regarded Falstaff as 
funny and Hamlet as tragic in a word, his 
easy acceptance of authority, coupled with 
occasional outbursts of emotion, are English to 
a degree. Take Gonzalo in "The Tempest." 
Has not Gonzalo the English attitude to 
Utopias and Socialism ? He begins with a 
fine scheme and then is gently laughed out of 
it, being ruled by his betters, though in some 
little danger from Caliban. If Shakespeare 
intended this play to be his vision of a world 



beautiful, a paradise regained, he never forgoes 
the Englishman's luxury of laughing at ideals. 
Shakespeare then is the reality of which John 
Bull was but a caricature. Only once have I 
seen a typical John Bull. It was in the lounge 
of an hotel. A thick-set, honest, rude, and 
podgy person came in, stood like a screen 
before the fire, set his thumbs firmly in the 
armholes of his waistcoat, and gazed round at 
us with bovine stolidity. But, when he spoke, 
it was not to assure with needless reiteration 
that he would " never be a slave." He said a 
few words in very broken English, and told us 
that he was a Spaniard on his first visit to this 
country. In England there never was, nor 
ever can be, that strange phantom, that over- 
solid ghost known as John Bull. I labour this 
point because, when one talks of a national 
movement in art, a chorus of critical ravens 
deplore the tendency, believing that unless the 
Briton become a cosmopolitan he will remain 
" insular." Shakespeare, and other people who 
live on islands, develop individualities. Some 
day we may come across the John Bull of our 
caricatures without having to go to Spain for 

Mr. Ernest Newman, one of our best musical 
critics, challenged his opponents in the Folk 



Movement to set down on paper a description 
of the typical Englishman. Shakespeare was 
too clever and John Bull too stupid to use 
as an illustration. Mr. Newman being the 
cleverest of the anti-nationalists I gave him 
a definition of the Englishman. I repeat it 
here, because nothing could do more harm to 
the Stratford Movement than to convey the 
idea that we wish to foster a local type. The 
English are a mixture of many races, pure in 
one respect. We are Indo-Europeans, and 
are kindred of the Celtic, Teutonic, and Indian 

Emerson wrote that the Englishman was the 
mud of all the races that is to say, the mixed 
soil of Europe, piled up by the avalanche of 
invasion, silted by the rivers of time. To this 
day, the fair hair and blue eyes of Scarborough 
and Whitby fishermen make one remember the 
Vikings. Nor need I remind a musical critic 
that the word Elgar bespeaks Norse descent, 
and that in the music of Olaf and of British 
Caractacus that blood cries aloud. The Nor- 
man invasion did not dominate the English 
type, but was absorbed. Who knows whether 
the entente cordiale did not begin at Senlac ? 
And not only have armed invaders fought 
their way into the family circle, but each 



county has moulded its type and its dialect, 
throwing up defences against the common 
enemy, Cosmopolitanism. And when I walk 
along a London street, seeing Parsees, Kaffirs, 
Frenchmen, Jews, Germans, and Spaniards, 
London does not seem less English. These 
barriers of race are everywhere in evidence. 
Each face flies its own flag. 

Mr. Newman held that all this talk about 
nationality and race feeling was a pose, that 
Reason, the sharp-tongued goddess, had broken 
down these sentimental barriers. When 
Shakespeare drew Shylock he showed his race 
feeling. Though Shylock is the hero of the 
work, no Jew would have pictured him as did 
Shakespeare. Though I have several good 
friends among the Jews, Reason has never 
shown me that I am a Jew. But when Shake- 
speare created Othello it was a very different 
matter. The character is drawn as an English- 
man, and only colour marks the difference. 
The cleverest critic cannot acquit Shakespeare 
of the natural race feelings common to all men. 

" Reason is of all countries," says La Bruyre. 
But if all countries were one, Reason would 
have less opportunity for varied development. 
True, nations depend upon each other for new 
phases of thought and new expressions of art. 



We love Wagner none the less because his art 
sprang from the soul of a people and was based 
on folk-tales. But here is the flaw: "Our 
good friends the nationalists and the folk-song 
enthusiasts always seem to me to come to grief 
here. Before we begin to found a ' national 
school/ let us at least agree as to what the 
national characteristics are." The critic wants 
to find out first, by reason and science, what is 
" national." The answer lies on our breakfast 
tables, in the form of eggs and bacon or news- 
papers. The food of the English, French, and 
German replies to a question which abstract 
reason stammers over. The fiction of England, 
like our drama, cannot be mistaken. At the 
same time the English race derives from so 
many sources that it is difficult to find half-a- 
dozen main characteristics. Admittedly we 
are insular some one said that the Channel 
was wider than the Atlantic. And this also 
is true of the North Sea. The English univer- 
sities, public schools, and games such as Rugby 
football, are distinctive. The independence 
that will not bow to militarism, and the public 
opinion that bars the way to revolution, are at 
once English. The modesty of the English- 
man, who is content for his island (or rather 
peninsula) to be a centre of self-governing 

1 06 


colonies rather than a dominator of servile 
States, is remarkable, especially as the land 
was once a Roman colony. 

Defoe, in " The True-born Englishman," 
says the last word on the fusion of the race : 

" Fate jumbled them together, God knows how ; 
Whatever they were, they're true-born English now." 

This glorious two-edged sword of a poem 
accepts the Englishman as a grotesque reality. 
We are all foreigners very much at home ; 
parvenus whose pride is our race ; insular and 
world-wide ; we are at once a contradiction 
and an interrogation. But we are not imagi- 
nary, though passionate lovers of the past. 
There seems always to be a demand for popular 
versions of English mythology. Pageantry 
and dancing are as much in the blood as in 
the days of Shakespeare. Of this Dr. Charles 
Harris, the Canadian conductor, is aware. In 
his Colonial choral tours, whenever he wants 
to impart a peculiarly English flavour, these 
very folk-songs are sung. And does not 
Tennyson surely a typical English poet 
say, <c He is the best cosmopolite who loves 
his native country best " ? The impartial man 
is always abroad and never at home. 

The entire significance of the Stratford 


Movement lies in the race question. If we 
have lost our national individuality, or even 
are suspected of having lost it, our power of 
corporate action and mutual sympathy are 
weakened. We should be like men who were 
not clear as to their own individuality. 

Shakespeare reflected the Elizabethan age 
as might a mirror. He is the banner-bearer 
round whom we must rally if anything like 
the Elizabethan spirit of enterprise and self- 
preservation are to be regained. The tendency 
of education and sentiment in the past has 
been to regard Shakespeare as the tailor's 
model of language rather than of character ; 
as a profound philosopher, who used poetry 
as a puzzle ; as a writer whom one should hold 
in solemn awe, read as seldom as possible, and 
whose plays are to be watched in a spirit of 
solemn admiration. 

We, in accepting him as a master, the master 
indeed of the ceremonies of a national festival, 
place his art upon a human basis : 

He was an Englishman to the core, 
born in the heart of England, and living 
in the hearts of Englishmen. 

As author of the Sonnets he is re- 
vealed to us as a man of like passions with 
1 08 


ourselves, purified in the fire of experi- 
ence, rising from height to height by and 
through his dramas. 

Of his earlier plays, " Much Ado About 
Nothing" holds the stage to-day because it 
was the work of a man who had loved and 
suffered in youth, till by reason of his buoyant 
spirit he was able comically to view love, 
giving us Beatrice and Benedick. Those two 
characters are clad in the immortality born of a 
comedy that can laugh at love without banality. 

" Measure for Measure " wins additional 
interest owing to the little recognised fact that 
Richard Wagner used it as the poem of his 
early opera " Liebesverbot." 

It is the custom to smile in a superior way 
at " The Two Gentlemen of Verona," and to 
regard "Romeo and Juliet" as alternating 
between sentiment and a melancholy passion 
that leads to death. And in these two Verona 
plays we are able to rebut the anti-nationalists. 
The Italians themselves do not regard Shake- 
speare as insular, despite the anachronisms 
that are to be found there. The city of 
Verona regards the Shakespearean connection 
as a great honour. In November 1910 a bust 
was set up there in honour of the great foreign 



dramatist. They honoured him as we regard 
Dante. The sculpture is the work of Renato 
Cattani, and represents the tragic Shakespeare 
standing by the reputed tomb of Juliet. The 
Morning Post commenting upon this said some 
interesting things about Italy and Italian feeling 
as they differ from ours : 

" Italian sentiment is more imaginative than 
ours. It can ignore proprieties of fact and 
date. It is no effort for the Italian mind to 
assume a retrospective attitude. In England 
it is different ; we are learning the lesson, as 
the pageants of recent years witness ; but 
Oxford venerates its mythical founder, King 
Alfred, with less grace and natural acceptance 
of the improbable than Italy displays in 
honouring the legends of the Capitol. Not 
that the English lack imagination ; but the 
Italian imagination is more vivid, and its 
exercise more spontaneous. Poetry, though 
England is one of its favourite homes, is 
treated with scanty acknowledgment by our 
nation ; in Italy poetical sentiment is honoured 
by all ; the look and dress of the people in 
the street reveal a nation which is conscious 
of beauty and not ashamed of it, the speech 
and gesture of gondoliers and fruit-sellers are 
poetical, it is never a long way to the ideal. 



" There is no limit to the friendly recogni- 
tion of foreign talent : Byron, Shelley, the 
Brownings, Winckelmann, Ruskin, have been 
received into the commonwealth of Italian 
letters ; busts and inscribed tablets decorate 
the houses in which they lodged ; there is a 
Piazza at Ravenna named after Byron, and 
his sojourn at Venice, Verona, and Pisa is a 
theme of never-failing interest. It is not only 
that they were welcomed when they lived in 
Italy, but their memory is accepted among 
Italian memories. We, too, are hospitable 
to strangers ; but we show more honour to 
patriots than to poets, being more interested 
in politics than in poetry. Hospitality is an 
old custom in Verona." 

And it is this spirit of an Italy beloved by 
Shakespeare, though probably never visited 
by him, that we desire to equal in the land 
of his birth. When we remember the Medicis, 
the wealth won on the Rialto, turned to the 
service of beauty and to the glory of God, 
one is surprised that a similar awakening of 
national spirit is not more apparent here, for 
it shines only rarely in the persons of a Charles 
Flower, or in other directions, an Andrew 

It is not so much the generous spirit of 


giving as the absence of any useful direction 
for artistic expenditure that keeps us back. 

For instance, if you enter the Valhalla of 
Saxon heroes, set up by Ludwig II. near 
Ratisbon, the first figure that meets your eye 
is that of Alfred the Great. Yet, in these 
days of National Service Leagues and Dread- 
noughts, he, the originator of modern nation- 
alism, is barely remembered, and mostly for his 
lack of skill as a toaster of cakes. 

And it is precisely this traditional spirit for 
which the Stratford Movement stands, and 
which has kept it alive with private endow- 
ment, but entirely without public subsidy. 
From an educational point of view " the 
abstract chronicles of our times," as revealed 
in the pageants and historical plays of Shake- 
speare, are of chief importance. 

And in a book which of necessity tries to 
show how much more may be done in all 
sections and domains of art, if all the publics 
will centralise at Stratford, it is satisfactory 
that, under Mr. Benson, this side of the work 
has been carried out to the extreme limit, and 
with complete success. The following plays 
of this class have been produced at Stratford : 
"King John/' "Richard II., 11 "Henry IV." 
(Parts I. and II.), "Henry V.," " Henry VI." 


Photo by Lang) 



(Parts I., II., and III.), and -Richard III." 
and "Henry VIII." 

Is there one of us, from the most superior 
critic to the humble author of these words, 
who would not have a clearer vision and a 
brighter fire of national consciousness for this 
experience ? 

And when Mr. Benson produced them as 
a continuous cycle, the panorama of genera- 
tions passed before one's eyes like a vivid 

This method of teaching history will in time 
lighten the labours of schoolmasters, and invest 
the details of history with a relevance and 
force unthinkable without the vivid spectacle 
of actual events. 

I am not going to discuss the authorship 
of " Henry VIII." Whoever wrote it, whether 
in whole or part, it is Shakespearean drama, 
and was produced a few years after the King's 
death. The characters were as near to the 
audience as are Gladstone, Beaconsfield, and 
Parnell to us. Even in the legendary plays, 
Shakespeare depicted men and women of his 
own day, even when the scene was laid in 

Then we have the Roman plays, " Julius 
Caesar," " Antony and Cleopatra/' especially 

113 H 


valuable in maintaining a balance, and pre- 
venting our nationalism from degenerating into 
insular drama. For even our critics contribute 
to the breadth and humanity of the scheme. 

And the others I should group thus, men- 
tioning nothing that has not been played at 
the Memorial Theatre : 

"Hamlet," "Othello," "Macbeth," and 
" King Lear," the plays of the soul, 
each character of which reveals, as it 
were, a possible phase or tendency of 
our individual characters. 

"A Midsummer Night's Dream," "As 
You Like It," and the other comedies. 

"The Tempest," Shakespeare's vision of 
the ideal world, peopled by human 
beings, but a world in which Caliban 
no longer has the mastery as he has 
to-day in our midst. It is a world 
ruled by Prospero, an Eden in which 
Ferdinand and Miranda regain para- 
dise for us. 

These plays provide an atmosphere, a school 
of beauty, to which humanity may turn, an 
element in which the soul may bathe as does 
the body in the veritable sea, 



It remains to emphasise one point. Shake- 
speare was and remains a contemporary 

Looking back upon Shakespeare, we are 
apt to say that he deals with the past. 
In a sense this is true. But here lies the 
significance of Stratford. A certain grandeur 
and beauty, a splendour and large freedom, 
have gone from us. An age of innovation, 
prosperity, and Empire has swept us along till 
even the poet of Imperial expansion has warned 
us, " Lest we forget." 

And now, when there are undoubted signs 
that all is not well, when plutocracy, and to 
a great extent alien wealth, has to a large 
degree supplanted our aristocracy, while 
democracy has not yet learned its enormous 
responsibility, faith and tradition must speak 
in the authentic voice of an England that was 
great, and must sound their clarion call to the 
ends of the earth, wherever the language of 
Shakespeare and the bonds of race are ready 
to respond. 

I have heard people say that we must get 
away from the past, and build up a drama of 
to-day. If we cast away the Elizabethan ruff 
for the high collar we lose little. But what 
sort of civilisation are we to portray ? 


If we place upon the stage modern reality, 
what sort of picture will it make ? 

In a hundred years our successors may have 
a different answer. The honest answer now is 
that we have lost much, and that were the 
days of Elizabeth to come again we should be 
the gainers. 

Stratford is not building upon unholy founda- 
tions a fool's paradise, but awaking traditions, 
clothed in the warm flesh of a living and 
throbbing actuality. 

Modern drama gives us few pictures that 
are either sane or splendid, whatever their age 
or period. It is, as a rule, artificial and 
" romantic," concerned with the more or less 
exciting episodes in the lives of puppets, in 
whose existence we do not for a moment 
believe. " The Merry Wives of Windsor" is 
a fair picture of what England was and might 
well become again without deterioration. 

Show me a similar comedy in contemporary 

Where the Elizabethans had "As You Like 
It" we must put up with German musical 
comedies, or French farces, mutilated and 
adapted till they have lost even the original 
raciness that made them palatable to " flaneurs " 



Where they had the tragedy of " Macbeth " 
we have melodramas, which carry but a faint 
echo of real horror, and fail to approach to the 
humanity of great tragic art. 

I mention no names because there would be 
no point in censuring plays that are here to-day 
and gone to-morrow. The works which were 
in my mind in writing this will be forgotten 
before the printer's proofs are corrected, but 
new examples will bear me out. 

On the other hand, I see no incongruity 
in mentioning Galsworthy's " Justice" in the 
same sentence as " Macbeth." The one deals 
with ambition and pride, the other with failure 
and disgrace. 

And, just as Shakespeare's play must have 
gone to the hearts of many in an age of bound- 
less ambition and energy, so " Justice," with its 
picture of a blind vengeance, strikes compassion 
into the hearts of those who view the hopeless, 
aimless struggle for life in the cities of to-day. 
Both artists wrote the work in obedience to 
their own need for creative expression, leaving 
action to the world of action. 

With so matter of fact a people as ours 
there is no need to insist upon the obvious. 
Our natural instinct to take pleasures seriously 
provides the popular dramatist with a peculiarly 



receptive audience. And I hope the time will 
never come for the Memorial Theatre to open 
its doors to an art that deals with problems in 
a peddling fashion. The self-conscious play- 
wright should be excluded. 

Apparently the cities cannot detect the flimsy 
in art, but only life and beauty can live in the 
Festival town on the Avon. 

Rather than tread the debateable ground of 
individual reputations, let us dream of the ideal 
theatre, with the actual achievement of Strat- 
ford in our minds. 

We have shown what Stratford has done, 
and have considered the spirit of Shakespeare, 
apart from the actual work of his hands. 

It now remains to leave the tilled field and 
to look upon the prairie, for there is no limit 
to the possibilities of development. 

To-day the Memorial Theatre is more alive 
than ever, but in time it might fossilise. Yet 
if it became formal, ceasing to develop and 
refusing re-birth, surely the waters of the Avon 
would turn into lead, and Shakespeare's birth- 
place mark the burial of his ideals and our own. 



THIS book has been to such an extent an 
arrangement of various developments in folk- 
art that one cannot exactly get the perspective. 
Suppose, for instance, that in the process of 
time it was found possible to build at Stratford 
a great Cathedral of the Arts, what would it be 
like ? 

Two things are necessary for its accomplish- 
ment : 

A new conception of the theatre. 

A clear idea of the kind of work that would 
constitute a National Festival. 

Within sight of the City of Dreams, fronting 
with its terraces a broad and ever-flowing river, 
stands the Dream Theatre. As yet it is 
built only within the hearts of a few, though 
its foundations lie deep in human conscious- 
ness. " Whether at Naishapur or Babylon," 
on the banks of the Hudson or Avon, what 
matter ! It is a National Theatre, not by official 



control, but by its essential character. For it 
will present on the stage the people's past, so 
that, kindled by legendary glories, hopes may 
beat higher and horizons expand. Standing 
back somewhat from the river, its frontage 
suggests a Greek temple, but the shape is 
unusual. Rising as it is carried back, the 
roof curves like a wave to another climax, 
whence it falls to the rear, which is sym- 
metrical in design. Its very shape suggests 
the on-coming tide of the human spirit. 

Nor is it the result of caprice, but is forced 
upon the dream-architect by the need of stage 
room. In order to change the scenes properly 
there must be as much room above and below 
the stage as there is between stage level and 
the top of the proscenium arch. There must 
not only be space for artists and stage hands, 
but for scenery and machines of elaborate 
character, and a revolving stage. 

In this respect as in others the theatre is 
modelled upon that at Bayreuth. But it is not 
of mere brick and wood, nor, indeed, so costly 
as the Prinz Regenten Theatre at Munich. Yet 
time and reflection have enabled the dream- 
architect to evolve several ideas which add to 
the beauty and reduce the cost of the work. 
The shape of the auditorium is that of an 

1 20 


amphitheatre, broadening as the seats rise, 
tier above tier, so that each of the fifteen 
hundred auditors is focussed upon the stage. 

The orchestra is hidden from view, and is so 
placed that the sound goes straight to the audi- 
ence rather than rising up like a fog of sound. 
And not only is it designed for a full orchestra, 
but contains specially arranged seats for a 
hidden chorus, for reasons that will follow, 
when we discuss the nature of national art. 

The seats are comfortable, and the colouring 
of the simple decorations is quiet and restful. 
The whole aim is to provide a means of hearing 
and beholding. I see it clearly enough to notice 
that the theatre is the central figure in a garden, 
with restaurants that suggest quiet, intimate 
little dinners between the acts, rather than the 
rush and scramble of a theatre supper in town. 
One minute before the acts begin a fanfare is 
blown on trumpets. The lights are lowered, 
and then extinguished. The doors are closed, 
and the audience waits in primal darkness for 
what ? 

In that question lies the entire failure of the 
art of the theatre. Given the most ideal condi- 
tions, a perfect theatre in a pleasant place, en- 
dowed by all the millionaires and attended by 
the entire democracy, without a conception of 



national needs, of normal dramatic hunger, the 
whole thing is a work of darkness. 

A programme can only be arranged by con- 
sidering man's needs, and how they are supplied 
by our modern or ancient art. 

If the needs of the people call for a new 
revelation of the spirit of man or God, it will 
be given. 

First let us see what we hold in store. 

The first aim of travel, the great result of 
experience, is to know men of all kinds. There- 
fore to ask for the works of Shakespeare would 
seem a sound basis of any national repertory. 

Apart from the universal human feeling of 
Shakespeare, and his minute characterisation, 
another kind of appeal needs satisfaction. The 
broad instinct of sex is so dominant that 
many a play is based upon some suggestive 
presentation of it. The flippant nastiness that 
passes the censor combines with the feather- 
headed drawing-room play in spreading senti- 
mental or unhealthy ideas. The actual passion 
cannot be presented in words. And it is not 
good for people to meet the God Eros unaware. 
An experience of sexual passion, a trial spin of 
the emotions, is possible through Wagner's 
41 Tristan and Isolde." Both in origin and 
conception this work is British. And if we go 



to the roots of the legend we find that Wagner 
did not invent its modernity. The essential 
idea of our legend is the lordship of Love, a 
tyrant scheming always for the future, brushing 
aside human obstacles, and using man and his 
desires like the Immanent Will of Mr. Hardy's 
" Dynasts." The work which happens to be 
the crowning glory of Wagner shows us the 
fiery glow of sunset, deepening to night, the 
merging of Love in Death. Beginning with 
physical passion as expressed in the music of 
the prelude, every fibre of the soul is quickened 
by the combined arts of Music and Philo- 
sophy. This is indeed Aristotle's purification 
by pity. 

In the same way Wagner's " Parsifal" tells 
the divine story of Youth becoming wise 
through gradually unfolding knowledge, and 
the growth of human sympathy. 

The mystery of sex, and the idea of 
Divine Love as revealed in Wagner's " Par- 
sifal," are surely part of an orderly and in- 
clusive scheme. Recent operatic experiences 
preclude the criticism that such works could 
not be done. But they would be treated as 
festival days of a Nationalist Religion rather 
than as after-dinner spectacles for a fashionable 
mob. The probability is that the same artists 



and the existing orchestras would excel them- 
selves under new conditions. The new trans- 
lations of the Wagnerian dramas, which permit 
of the baton falling on the important syllables, 
make it easy to hear the English words. 

The function of the theatre does not stop at 
the qualities we have mentioned : 

A wide sweep of life in the works of 

The qualities of sympathy and the passion 
of sex, through Wagner. 

The other classes may, however, be set out 
very easily. In fact a summary would well 
nigh explain them : 

(a) The dramas of Shakespeare and Wagner, 
alternating and supplementing each other, pro- 
duced by existing organisations under the 
direction of the Governors. 

(6) Modern dramas of the kind suggested by 
the names of Yeats, Shaw, Galsworthy, and 
other distinctive creators. 

(c] The Greek dramatists (as translated 
by Gilbert Murray, with music by Granville 

(d] The performance in connection with 
each Festival of morris dances, folk-songs, and 
English games. 

(e] To bring down the best Choral Societies 



to perform works of national importance, such 
as "Gerontius," " Midnight," and " The Sun 
God's Return." 

(/) To foster the local singing of folk-song, 
choral and solo, and to encourage the people 
of the place to produce their own plays and 
pageants representing their own history, ideals, 
and jokes. 

(g] To further include all art-work in the 
form of drama, dance, or song, provided they 
be vital and interesting. 

(A) To accept and encourage the co-opera- 
tion of all existing bodies, subject only to a 
general control of policy by the Governors. 

So far we have been concerned with an 
imaginary theatre. But we have shown that, 
by ignoring distinctions and varieties, a general 
body of work exists that would cover a wide 
range of human activity and interest. Not 
only would all these plays and choral works 
be produced, but a course of truly national 
festivity would reign. Old harvest customs, 
many of the folk-pleasures of pre-puritan times, 
would return. With the exception of bear- 
baiting, the jolly Middle Ages would awake to 
the merrymaking of modernity. 

Stratford is an ideal base for these operations, 
and already the material and organisation exist. 



The idea of such a theatre on the banks 
of the Hudson was formulated by Madame 
Nordica some time ago. But Music was to 
be supreme. The London National Theatre 
project at present goes to the other extreme. 
In the book of plans Music shares a chapter 
with Refreshments. No doubt Wagner would 
figure on the wine-list, among the hocks ; and 
Elgar represent Hereford cider. 

But at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, 
Stratford-upon-Avon, the only endowed theatre 
in England, despite the handicap of a small 
building, the main lines of this dream-theatre 
are being carried out. In addition to Shake- 
speare, and dramatic works old and new, folk- 
song and old English dances are among the 

These forms of art appeal to the race. And 
when I write of Anglo-Celtic feeling I include 
America, believing that, as in Shakespeare's 
day, we are one people, and that our common 
heritage of folk-art would bridge over the in- 
evitable superficial differences that have arisen. 
In England or America, through Shakespeare, 
this dream will come true. 

And if the reader will turn to the summary 
of the proposed repertory it will be seen that 
all the varieties set down are popular and 



successful in their several ways, though never 
have all these forms been brought together in 
one scheme. 

So far do I regard the communal nature of 
the undertaking as important, that not only 
should the performances be part of an Annual 
Festival, but those working for the theatre 
should be united by a common bond. In 
connection with the theatre would be a handi- 
craft guild and a farm colony, so that the 
artists and stage-hands might, as far as feasible, 
live a healthy outdoor life. Of course in the 
case of special actors, orchestral players, and 
the few necessary specialists, this could not be 
managed. Isolde could not be expected to 
hoe, nor Ophelia to weed. But the over- 
specialisation of the artist is one of the crimes 
of the commercial theatre, a thing unheard 
of in Greece, and only deemed essential in 
degenerate times. The stagnant life of the 
agriculturist has its counterpart in the neo- 
monastic condition of the actor's craft. 

This reminds one that England's healthiest 
art is that of the Choral North, where men 
and women sing for the love of the work, and 
find that it helps rather than hinders their daily 
labours. And it would seem that, if a popular 
national drama is to arise, peculiarly expressive 



of our own life in the legends of our country, 
the voice of the people must be heard in a 
literal sense. And that is why, in my imagi- 
nary orchestra pit, I left places for the singers. 

Just as in the Greek dramas the Chorus 
represents the Mass, and in the same way 
that Wagner's orchestra comments upon the 
action through music, we must incorporate the 
chorus of oratorio with the opera in the drama 
of the future. How much better would it have 
been if the Prelude to Tristan and Isolde 
actually sang to us the nature of love, rather 
than leaving it to the unaided orchestra. For 
the ordinary man does not understand Wagner 
without explanation. 

The subject matter of such choral dramas 
naturally would be Anglo-Celtic. Wagner 
sought his material in the quarry of the 
Nibelungenlied, and put into his presentment 
his own personal political opinions quite as 
caustically as does Mr. Shaw. The difference 
lies in the fact that Wagner was in love with 
beauty, while Mr. Shaw, being a puritan, puts 
duty before dreams. The same idea obsessed 
Oscar Wilde. He was so ardent a sociologist 
that he made a point of "not talking shop," 
which accounts for " The Importance of Being 
Earnest." Wagner, having genius instead of 


Photo by L. Casvuall Smith 



manners, writes his " Ring," with Siegfried the 
Superman, Brunnhilde the suffragette, Alberich 
the millionaire, and Mrs. Grundy in the person 
of Fricka. Already Lord Howard de Walden 
and Mr. Holbrooke have written and composed 
a choral drama based on a tale in the Mabin- 
ogion. While, as long ago as November 1908, 
the Leeds Symphony Orchestra performed an 
excerpt from another by Mr. Rutland Boughton 
and myself, dealing with the birth of Arthur. 
For Arthur seems to us typical of the Super- 
man that we need, a son of human and spiritual 
passion, born of the primal longing of Uther, 
and the beauty and yearning of Igraine, the 
free and unfettered woman, for whom the age 
cries without ceasing. Mr. Hadley's Arthurian 
works prove him to be artistically our brother, 
an American knight of the Table Round. 
And when composers and poets unite to clothe 
the thoughts of to-day in the beauty of the 
past, the gropings of science and the dreams 
of philosophers will become vocal. No longer 
will wisdom be the secret possession of the 
sage, but, clad in loveliness, its expression will 
be the joyful religion of the folk. And the 
choral form, united with the dramatic, enables 
the orchestral chorus to speak out with the 
tones of a giant whatever prophetic message 

129 I 


or commentary upon the action be called forth 
by necessity. Modern opera is the plaything 
of fools. If we turn to oratorio we find its 
more recent developments entirely hopeful. 
But it cannot be national and in the broad 
sense popular so long as the Angel in Elgar' s 
" Gerontius " wears the dress of the ball-room, 
and bows to the audience like a ballad singer. 
And he who has met Nietszche's " Zarathus- 
tra" in evening dress upon the concert plat- 
form must, in Nietzschean phrase, "hold his 

Of course these works of Delius and Elgar 
are not choral dramas, but at the Dream 
Theatre, with hidden chorus and orchestra, 
and suitably gowned principals on a twilight 
stage, the Christianity of Elgar and the Nietz- 
scheanity of Delius, or the Omarian philosophy 
of Granville Bantock, would be freed from the 
absurdity of concert-platform treatment. 

Then again there are the old folk-plays ; 
" Everyman " ; the works of the Chester and 
Coventry Cycles ; which always were and will 
be popular, yet have nothing in common with 
the theatre as we know it. 

I have found great, but unhappily solitary 
pleasure, in reading the Wakefield Cycle, 
especially the Second Nativity Play of the 



Shepherds. But these, with their holy com- 
pounds of buffoonery and mystery, are not 
for individuals but for crowds. In fact the 
idea of " Home Counties," in The World's 
Work for September (1910), for an open- 
air theatre, would at least give us these plays 
again, though music-drama could not live out 
of doors. 

At the risk of repetition, but for the sake 
of clearness, I will set down a typical pro- 
gramme, reminding the reader that not a single 
feature of this Dream Theatre scheme is 
original except the conception of a unity of 
the Arts, as the basis of a popular national 
folk worship, in place of the flounderings of 
the modern theatre, both in deep and shallow 
waters. Each type and variety of the following 
productions have been successful in their own 
areas : 


(The Festival to be under the control of the Dream 
Theatre Governors, the main tendency being to centralise 
Anglo-Saxon Art around the personality of Shakespeare, by 
means of his works, and to produce other works akin to 
them in folk-spirit.) 

COMEDY DAY. Revels, Dancing, and Singing Games, 
followed by " As You Like It." 


CHORAL DAY. "Thus Spake Zarathustra." Delius. 

Choral Variations of National Folk-Songs. ( Various?) 

" The Dream of Gerontius." Elgar. 

"Death and Transfiguration," Tone Poem. Strauss. 

Music DRAMA. "Tristan and Isolde." Wagner. 
(Orchestra and company from the capital.) 

GREEK PLAY. " Orestes," "CEdipus," or " Hippolytus." 
(Produced with music, in English, by the Shake- 
spearean Company.) 

MODERN COMEDY. Social satire, Irish folk-plays, or pan- 

TRAGEDY DAY. A special production, with new music and 
full orchestra, of " Hamlet," " Othello," or " Macbeth." 

LOCAL REVELS. Dancing and Song by people of the 
place, and, if possible, an original local play, or a 
burlesque presentation of the Temple Ideals. This is 
an annual feature in the life of the Garden City at 

CHORAL DRAMA. Anglo- Celtic Legendary work, with 
orchestra, and provincial Festival Chorus. 

CLOSING DAY. Pageant and Procession, followed by a 
performance of " The Tempest." 

The last day I would devote to the pro- 
duction of a mediaeval play from one of the 
old Cycles, on an open-air stage, exactly as in 
the old days. So far as could be managed, 
the whole town would be in costume, and the 
play would be followed by an old English 
carnival and a river fte. 



A programme of this nature would be 
varied and elaborated as time went on. In 
detail it is assailable, but each form of popular 
art has its place. 

There can be no doubt of the value of such 
an environment, even for a few days. The 
modern city would be dingy to eyes that had 
been fed upon the dreams and laughter, the 
beauty and wisdom of such a modern Camelot. 
The spirit of the Table Round would fill this 
tourney of the arts. And, like Arthur's 
knights, men would set out thence in quest of 
the Graal. For the Graal of the Modern 
surely is the light that banishes ugliness, which 
alone is evil. 

If our cities were made beautiful, if Apollo 
slew Mammon, the wealth of the world would 
for its own sake sweep away the suffering and 
the stupidity from which our civilisation de- 
rives its woes. Just as the cruder forms of 
Christianity taught men to suffer, so the living 
Art and the living Christ warn him that the 
cup is ready and the vine is ripe. In the 
spread of a glorious dissatisfaction the artist 
is the torch-bearer. But he is alone, and only 
when the nation, the wider family circle of 
to-morrow, meets together to behold and to 
enjoy in community, is art of any use. And 



lest this theatre become a shadow show, it is 
necessary to link it with a living body of men, 
as an integral part of their township. 

Its realisation depends upon co-operation 
between those who see kinship between handi- 
craft, healthy outdoor life and agriculture, and 
the Arts. Do not Wagner, Whitman, Millet, 
Morris, and G. F. Watts prove the kinship? 
Even those who wish Art to educate or 
teach, in a literal sense, are feeling after the 
same idea. 

Art, like any other form of religion, is an 
expression of truth, not a form of propaganda. 
And to express a true life we must create an 
environment. When a town has been evolved, 
which is the very centre of everything Anglo- 
Celtic, when the physical and spiritual culture 
of the nation looks to it as a place of health 
and good life, there will be something to show 
for the theatre as the rallying point, as the 
Cathedral of Beauty. Being a privately en- 
dowed enterprise, to a great degree supported 
by the public, it will not languish upon a sub- 
sidy nor strive to please a rabble. To attract 
the people it must, at the lowest possible cost, 
bring together all classes and conditions for 
the double purpose of healthy holiday and new 



The Temple Theatre as I see it is near 
the City of Dreams, which waits always for 
destiny. It is not too near the busy haunts 
of men. Only those to whom the Festival 
Spirit calls will trouble to come. Away from 
the bustle it stands where mediaeval memory 
clings, watered by pure raindrops from the 
clearing skies of our own day. 

It is surrounded by trees, with its houses 
and workshops, and its agricultural belt. The 
fanfare has sounded, and the audience enters 
the building as the sun in loving strength burns 
its roof to fiery bronze. For therein glow 
the hearts of men, quickened by " the emotion 
of multitude." 

And, after it is all over, can you not see the 
loungers on the landing-stage, watching the 
launches float down the river to the town, as 
the moonlight shimmers over the calm that 
follows great emotion ? 

Or, better still, can you not hear the shrill 
whistle of an engine that is to take back to 
their labour a thousand toilers, who, having 
followed a local chorus to the Dream Temple, 
will have heard also the glory that was Greece, 
and the freedom that fires the soul of a 
people ? 




HAVING pictured our ideal theatre, and seen 
the analogy that exists respecting our own 
national spirit and that of the Greeks, we may 
now bind our ideas together by considering 
Wagner as growing out of Shakespeare on the 
one hand and the dramatists of Athens on the 

Shakespeare, in Meredith's phrase, was 
" broad as ten thousand beeves at pasture." 
Wagner was narrow. His was the art of 
concentration, of unity burning to a point of 
fire to kindle emotion. 

In " Art and Revolution," one of his finest 
essays, he says that "we cannot make one 
step forward without being brought face to 
face with its connection with the Art of ancient 

And he sums up the Greek people under 
the symbol of Apollo, "with all the traits of 



energetic earnestness, beautiful and strong." 
It was thus, he says, that Aeschylus knew 
him. And when the tragic poet awakened 
Apollo to speech, that is to say, when all 
that was noble in the various arts was drawn 
together in the composite art of drama, man 
might at last see himself, in all laughter and 
suffering, beneath the chastening anguish of 
Oedipus, in the divine sacrifice of Iphigenia, 
in the agony of Antigone, or under the lash 
of Aristophanes. Life became vocal and 
visible to him. His public re-creation, his 
religion, and his philosophy bore the mark 
of manhood. 

But he knew also that man in his degra- 
dation, amid the sorrows that a complex 
civilisation had laid upon him, had cast off 
the pride of manly strength. His religion 
was no longer even an echo of that strong 
Voice which came "not to bring peace but 
a sword," and bore small likeness to the Healer 
and Comforter of mankind, but carried itself 
meekly amid tyrannies, and was used by the 
rich to keep the poor in their places. In fact 
the poison of oligarchy had eaten away the 
Christian spirit of community. Yet beside all 
this was a changed world. The true Christian 
ideal was not alien to the Greek. For while 



Athens knew the curse of slavery, and had 
shed the petals of her roseate glory in the 
sunset that was destruction, the armour of 
the Christian was but rusty through misuse, 
and cheapened to some extent by the mean 
spirit of the times. Therefore Wagner saw that 
in Hellenism lay the hope of his generation. 

Therefore in Wagner's dramas we find from 
" Tannhauser " to " Parsifal " the pure doctrines 
of Christ, in the " Ring of the Nibelungs" the 
spirit of Apollo, and in "The Meistersingers " 
the united strength of golden Hellenism and 
ruddy mediaeval faith, and the folk. 

Wagner held that Art must be at once 
a religion and a re-creation. From the first 
his aims were conscious, while Shakespeare's 
probably were not. There may be any number 
of conjectures as to the nature of Hamlet's mad- 
ness. But in the case of Wagner's creations 
there is never a shadow of doubt as to his 
meaning among people to whom words and 
actions convey any ideas at all. 1 The un- 
conscious Art of Shakespeare gives the breadth 
of Meredith's ten thousand beeves at pasture, 
while Wagner, with his conscious, propagandist 
music-dramas, is mounted upon horse-back, 

1 Except in the incorrect versions usually seen in England, 
which are not easy to follow. R. R, B. 



and, like his Valkyries, bears us straight to the 
Walhalla of his conceptions. 

Perhaps the first of the Wagnerian works 
to examine closely should be " Tristan and 
Isolde." It is the one above all which reveals 
Wagner as the perfect artist, complex in his 
means and absolutely simple in his results. 
Love is the phase of life most often attempted 
by the artist, usually with the worst results. 
Either he is a sentimentalist, dealing only with 
the absurdities and the affectations that attend 
those to whom love is a form of sickness rather 
than healthy normality. Or, being essentially 
a beastly or erotic man, he smears his canvas 
or degrades his stage with gross and equally 
abnormal pictures of the worse than animal 
side of the subject. 

Now, to a clean man love is the delight 
in beauty, personified in one woman, whom he 
regards first as comrade and equal, and then, 
diving deep into his primal nature, longs for 
as wife. Or, from the woman's point of 
view, man becomes a symbol of strength and 
energy, inspiring trust and at the same time 
marking him out as a companion and mate. 

The complications of marriage may provide 
a comedy, but the only sane and healthy 
tragedy that can arise from love is in fate 



and circumstance coming between the lovers, 
the eternal conflict of Love and Death. 

Love is the expression of the race spirit 
working for its continuance, and a drama 
dealing with it should be so far religious that 
it reveals to the beholder the nature of the 
passion, the need for a complete union of body 
and soul. The capacity of men and women 
for love, and their standard and measure of it, 
determine the whole future of the race, as 
well as their personal happiness. 

With Wagner as with Shakespeare, their 
ideas went along two main roads : the love 
of women and of their own nation, with 
occasional flashes of mystical vision. 

Wagner's drama of love is not only of 
supreme interest for its own sake, as essen- 
tially a British tale, with a direct appeal to 
normal feeling. But, in comparison with 
" Romeo and Juliet," a few points of technical 
interest stand out. 

" Romeo and Juliet" had long been held the 
full expression of human love. And so might 
it have remained had not form and methods 
changed ; and had not human thought also 
progressed. Shakespeare's view was broad 
enough! But he had to express himself by 
the poet's art alone, and, owing to the spirit 



of his times, to avoid introspection and 

So far as method goes I know of no more 
useful comparison than that of Scene 2, Act ii., 
of both dramas. The scenic atmosphere is 
practically the same in both cases. 

"Romeo. But, soft, what light through yonder window 

breaks ? 

It is the east and Juliet is the sun. 
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon, 
Who is already sick and pale with grief, 
That thou her maid art far more fair than she ; 
Be not her maid since she is envious ; 
Her vestal livery is but sick and green, 
And none but fools do wear it; cast it off." 

(Thus Romeo comes to Juliet. But Isolde 
is able to await Tristan without having to 
create an atmosphere of love-sickness, which 
Romeo does by using the words I have itali- 
cised. The orchestra and the scene do that 
much better.) 

The lovers meet : 

"Juliet. My ears have not yet drunk a hundred words of 

thy tongue's uttering, yet I know the sound ; 
Art thou not Romeo, and a Montague ? " 

(They then talk of the scaling of the garden 
walls, and more serious perils.) 


The other lovers, equally in danger : 

" Tristan. Isolde ! Beloved ! 
Isolde. Tristan ! Beloved ! 
Art thou mine ? " 

The orchestra and the scene render a fuller 
greeting superfluous. The outward expression 
of human love is a matter in which words take 
an important but not the first place. " Tristan " 
seems to me to have superseded " Romeo 
and Juliet," whereas " The Tempest" has no 
parallel in more modern Art. In fact, if one 
goes through the whole range of Shakespeare's 
plays comparing him with the mastery of other 
men, there are but few among them that have 
become out of date. In common with all 
lasting drama, " Tristan and Isolde" is based 
upon old legend. There are two parts of our 
national lore which are universal the Graal 
and the Tristan stories. 

With these two I propose to deal, holding 
that they are part of the essential art of Britain, 
whose trunk and core is Shakespeare, but 
whose branches widen. 

He has purged the old story of its dross ; 
the alloy is taken away and the pure gold 
remains. The result is that we are willing 
to forget conflicting versions, and to accept 



Wagner's drama as the true portrayal true 
because it is deeper and more human than the 
mere echoes of tradition, which have grown 
distant and dim. 

Think of the old story of Bretagne, that 
tempest of suffering and emotion that was 
never stilled, the great tragedy that goes from 
Life into Death, but comes forth again. The 
orchestra surges in great waves of tone, now 
dying into a ripple, now heaving and swelling, 
and at last sinking into calm. 

ACT I. A sailor is singing at the masthead, 
but Isolde, lying face downwards on some 
cushions, in the pavilion which has been erected 
for her, pays no heed. Her maid, Brangane, 
looks through the curtains, and announces that 
they near the shore. Isolde rises in fury, for, 
throughout the voyage, Tristan, the knight who 
takes her to be the bride of King Marke, has 
refused to come to her. Up surges the wild 
music, and Isolde gives vent to her passion, 
which increases with the storm which has 
suddenly come upon the vessel ; she cries for 
air, and Brangane opens the curtains. Tristan 
stands among the sailors, gazing out to sea, 
while Kurwenal, his squire, reclines at his feet. 
The scene recalls memories, for Tristan had 
slain her lover, Morold, but being wounded his 


friends had carried him to her, for she was 
magician as well as princess. His broken 
sword had fitted the piece which she had found 
in Morold's wound, and it was her intention to 
slay him. But Tristan's eyes betrayed his 
passion for her, and she had healed him. This 
unknown knight had now been sent to bring 
her as bride to his king. She hates his resolute 
coldness, and remembers Morold. She bids 
Brangane prepare the Draught of Death. 
Then she summons Tristan. The orchestra 
dwells on the scene till the hero approaches, 
when it heralds him with a majestic theme, 
which is allied to him throughout the drama. 
For a moment they stand and gaze, but, when 
Tristan hears the nature of her thoughts, he 
hands her his unsheathed sword and confronts 
Isolde. This she refuses, for another idea has 
entered her mind. The draught is handed to 
him and for a while they gaze at each other, 
while the music rises like a dirge. He pledges 
her in the deadly cup, and drinks, but Isolde 
snatches the half-drained potion, and quaffs it 
with passionate recklessness. The music rises 
like incense to the memory of these lovers, 
who have drunk of forgetfulness, till the strings 
commence a tremulous theme, which is taken 
up by the whole orchestra. This is not Death. 


Photo by D. McNeill, Stratford-upon-Avon 



Isolde opens her arms and approaches Tristan, 
who, step by step, responds. Brangane has 
mixed a potion of Love, not Death. Free will 
is gone. Controlled by outer forces they rush 
into each other's arms, and echo in word, 
gesture, and embrace all that the wild pulses 
of the orchestra portray. 

The ship is in port, and the maids of King 
Marke robe Isolde in her bridal dress, as soon 
as Kurwenal has dragged Tristan away. 

ACT II. The introduction gives a musical 
picture of the lovers' unrest, now that they are 
lit for conflagration. The curtain parts and 
shows the doorway of King Marke's Castle, 
while stretched before us is a woodland scene, 
with moonlight filtering through the trees and 
shimmering on the stream, and the air is filled 
with music more lovely than all the praises of 
poet or painter, the very growth of the beauty 
revealed. The sounds of hunting are intro- 
duced, and we can follow its course through 
the mingling of these sounds with the other 
music. The whole scene is voiceless till Isolde 
and Brangane come forward. Isolde bids the 
latter extinguish the torch that blazes in the 
doorway, and so bid Tristan come. Brangane 
fears treachery, so Isolde -herself takes down 
the light. Then, standing in the moonlight, 

H5 K 


with the intermittent sound of hunting coming 
to her ears, she beckons to her lover. He 
comes, and the music is filled with strange 
magic. It rises and falls, eddies, sparkles, 
grows overcast with portent as Love holds 
them in each other's arms. They sing of 
Night and oblivion as a land of rest, a dark 
casket jewelled with stars beyond the chain of 
sense or circumstance. In ecstasy they pass 
the hours till Dawn and hard reality strike 
them cold. And dolorous sounds come from 
the orchestra in place of the magic which has 

ACT III. At the end we have tragedy in all 
its fulness. Fever burns Tristan's last embers. 
Delirium preys upon him. With feverish 
strength he pushes the stalwart squire away 
and rises in his bed. " The ship! the ship!" 
With frenzy he awaits Kurwenal's report. 
Not yet in sight ! At last when the deli- 
rium, the burning hope, the blasting despair, 
have risen to their height, the shepherd pipes 
a merry tune. Kurwenal rushes to the emi- 
nence, descends with tears of joy : the ship is 
in sight. Tristan is suspicious. Is Kurwenal 
false too? In weakness he subsides, but rises 
again with madness upon him, for he has had 
to bear the full tide of hurrlan sorrow and 



passion, and the meridian of pain ; and the 
tired, burning man gives full vent to his 
emotion, the orchestra tossing its tone billows 
in harmony with the waves of delirium. He 
tears off his bandages and staggers from his 
couch, for he has heard Isolde's approach, and 
bids his blood flow merrily. She enters in 
time to support him as he falls. He has just 
time to breathe her name, which he does to 
the same phrase as in the first Act, and sinks 
lifeless, she helpless with grief beside him. 
Then another ship arrives. Brangane has 
admitted her guilt, and King Marke arrives 
to pardon them. But Kurwenal has observed 
Melot among the soldiers, offers a stout re- 
sistance, and is slain, and with his last ounce 
of strength the faithful fellow drags himself to 
the body of his master. King Marke blesses 
them in noble, kingly phrases, while Brangane 
weeps. Then rises Isolde from the corses of 
Tristan and Kurwenal, like a sleepwalker 
gazing on untold treasure. She sings of a 
life beyond where she and Tristan speed 
through space together to some unknown land. 
The vibrant orchestra shows that beyond the 
quiet voice there is great exaltation. Her face 
is lit up as she glorifies the dead, and sees in 
death a great crescendo, a rainbow bridge 



from here to Walhall. Slowly she bends and 
sinks lifeless upon her lover. For in her song 
has her soul gone out. So must it have been, 
as always in life, which demands of the great 
ones their all before they pass unfettered into 
the Land of Night. Of the miser death takes 
toll of his millions, of the lover his love, before 
they pass out alone or with a comrade. 

It is said that the lovers were buried to- 
gether, and that an ivy plant and a vine grew 
up over their tomb, and mingled together so 
that no man could part them, for so it was 
with them in life, and so in death. 

So much for an outward expression of the 
work, but what of the feelings it engenders ? 

Would that all lovers newly plighted, or on 
their wedding day, could come under the spell ! 
I cannot think of a phase of love which is not 
touched in this living dream. 

Here we are not faced by " realism " or 
" romanticism," but we see the romance of 

And what is this Love ? 

It is not aspiration towards a freer life 
in a life beyond, which is a part of Divine 
Love. It is not a longing for human beauty, 
which is of the good earth. But it is born of 
these things. It is a realisation that man is 



twofold, and that the union of the sexes, like 
the reconciliation of man to God, is a primal 
thing. Only where these two things are first 
in the consciousness of men is it possible to 
get forward to the freedom and the beauty we 
long for. When every sense is purified by 
spirit, when the turmoil of present-day strife 
has fled, man will realise that each physical 
sense has its spiritual counterpart, that this 
Hellenic view of love will lead us, not to 
savagery, but to the simple strength of ele- 
mental things. 

Love then, stripped of all disguise of custom 
or warped instincts, is life's supreme end. It 
is a manifestation of the race spirit in this 
world of ours, in which body and soul seek 
kinship. And if this drama of Wagner is the 
supreme exposition of love, if in Shakespeare 
we find the pageants of national history, the 
dramas of fate and ambition, and the comedies 
of wit and beauty, but two sides remain to 
focus as it were a world's spiritual essence 
within the four walls of a theatre. These 
are : 

(a) The relation of mankind to a Saviour. 

(&) A contemporary drama, dealing with 
such paramount forces of our own day as are 
not included. 



The latter I leave to the next chapter, and 
will deal here with " Parsifal." 

For, while regarding " Tannhatiser " as a 
work that deserves complete production in a 
British theatre, "Tristan" and " Parsifal" 
alone are imperatively Indo-European and 
akin to our race in the most vital sense. 

" Parsifal " is more akin than any existing 
work to the Mystery Play. The Passion Play 
atOberammergau is a narrative, an illustration. 
" Parsifal" is a religious ceremony, in which 
the ideas of the East blend with Western con- 

Wagner's German Federalism expressed 
itself in the "Ring" cycle, his peculiarly 
German folk-spirit in the pageantry of " Die 
Meistersinger " the German " Merry Wives 
of Windsor." 

But in " Parsifal " he reveals a consciousness 
of kinship with the Indian side of our nature. 
Not only was the work to be Christian in 
idea, but a vision of Indian wisdom. 

If we compare the Jewish hot-blood of 
" Salome " with the restraint of Wagner's last 
work, my meaning becomes clear. 

Life is not all love and death, but the re- 
demption must find its place in our thoughts. 

The legend upon which the work is based 


came from the East to France, thence to 
Germany, where it became the subject of 
Wolfram von Eschenbach's great poem, and 
to Britain, as the legend of Peredur, the son 
of Evrawc (Mabinogion). 

Parsifal is the pure and simple youth who 
brings salvation through sympathy. Amfortas, 
the Grail King, has been false to his race, the 
Grail worship no longer is a joy, but is full of 
the pain of inconsistency. 

There is nothing in " Parsifal " to suggest 
that asceticism is an ideal in itself. It was 
decadence and impurity which brought to 
King Amfortas the wound that never would 

The story, roughly and with differences, re- 
minds one of that of Christ Himself, and the 
symbolic significance of the work is inspired 
by the Messianic idea. For this reason it is, 
from the Christian and Anglo-Celtic points of 
view, the simplest of dramas, and one of the 
most necessary. 

As we have seen, there is nothing of Judaic 
faith in the work. " Parsifal" sprang from the 
East, and has reappeared wherever the Indo- 
European race has spread. Wagner's version 
is simply a blending of essentials in the form 
of a ceremony. 


The performance of such a work as an 
entertainment would be an outrage. 

At Stratford it would be a solemn aftermath 
of a season traversing our history, our nature 
and comic traits, our love and faith. 




THE Stratford Movement grew out of Shake- 
speare, who was as English as the Avon, 
though as universal as the water which is 
the genius of rivers everywhere. The religi- 
ous nature of the drama has been shown to 
us by the Greeks, and the nationalism of the 
Teutonic people stands out in the person and 
art of Richard Wagner. 

So far the Memorial Theatre has opened 
its doors to the Orestean trilogy. 

And the Governors have incorporated folk- 
dancing in their broad and human scheme. 
So that there is nothing incongruous in dealing 
briefly with the most popular and essentially 
national of all art forms, that of Choral Song. 

It is the modernity, and not the medievalism 
of Shakespeare, that has made the Festival 

But the modern stage having drifted away 
from normal life and the expression of living 
thought, the creative impulse has found 



other outlets. Instead of Wagner we have 
Elgar: instead of " Parsifal" we have "The 
Dream of Gerontius." Instead of the rich 
music-drama of Germany, or the delicate 
fantasy of France, we have our legacy of 
Folk Song. 

Unhappily our glorious choral music, in 
which alone this country excels, is confined 
to musical circles, choral societies, and concert- 
rooms. But seeing that the expression of 
communal feeling lies at the root of the 
movement, the time is growing ripe for the 
introduction of choral art into the Festival 

As this book is not only a record of things 
done, but a broad statement of the various 
tendencies of folk art, I will try to show what 
is the actual condition of choral England, and 
how choral art stands or might stand towards 
the general idea of Stratford. 

The spoken drama and choral song both 
have their roots in the folk ; they are branches 
of the same tree, balancing and giving pro- 
portion. In Shakespeare himself music and 
speech were as one, and his plays full of 
snatches of song natural to an age wherein 
music was a language to men who could 
barely write their names. To this day much 



music lingers among those to whom book- 
learning has not come. 

Men like Sir Charles Stanford, Messrs. 
Frank Kidson, Cecil Sharp, M'llwaine, John 
Graham, and Percy Grainger, and Miss Lucy 
Broadwood have rescued and published many 
folk-songs, bringing them from oblivion only 
just in time. 

Though they have been brought from the 
country inn and from the fields, modern com- 
posers have not as yet been dominated or 
drenched with the power and purity of them. 
They are wayside flowers rather than humanity's 
daily food. And that is why critics like Mr. 
Newman laugh at the idea of national choral 
art, based upon the past. 

Miss Neal and the Esperance Club have 
done a great work, while Sir Charles Stanford 
has encouraged the study of folk-song at the 
Royal College of Music. Mr. Sharp, too, con- 
trols a school, and has edited several volumes. 

But only recently has folk-song begun its 
successful campaign at the great musical festi- 
vals, linking them up with the outworn oratorio 

To properly appreciate this point it is neces- 
sary to give a picture of musical England, and 
to invest it with personality, remembering that 

155 ' 


not England alone, but the Colonies, and above 
all the Dominion of Canada, are progressing on 
these lines. 

With regard to the Musical Festivals of this 
country a few words must be said. 

If we compare their nature with that of 
the Shakespeare Festival three things are 
lacking : 

(a) A common aim centring around a living 
idea, and definite policy. 

(6) Conditions of health and open air. 

(c) A popular or national tendency. 

These are evils which cannot be denied. 

Their virtues are : 

(a) At the Three Choir Festivals (Hereford, 
Gloucester, and Worcester) a certain religious 
tradition informs them, giving life and a reason 
for existence. 

(b) Occasionally a City Festival (Leeds, New- 
castle, or Birmingham) introduces a work of 
national or popular interest, as will be seen. 

The first cause of the trouble is irreparable. 
The modern city is no place for joy and great 
endeavour, though it might become so if the 
artistic life of the city were born anew. 

Alone among rural festivals is that at Hov- 
ingham. It is a country organisation, founded 
in 1886 by a parson, and aided by the squire 



two types that do not suggest democratic feel- 
ing to those who look narrowly at life. The 
quality of the works done at this village is not 
inferior to that at any of the larger ones. At 
present the organisation remains, but the work 
is in abeyance. 

Leeds, Birmingham, and Cardiff also have 
had to face a decline in support. This is not 
surprising in view of the high prices, which 
make what are ostensibly popular festivals 
into society gatherings. True, they are held 
at different cities, but the audience is the same. 
Seldom do they represent either the taste or 
feeling of their locality. A big reputation or 
special aptitude at wire-pulling are qualities 
which too often determine the production of 
works. Seldom does a regard either for the 
peculiar merits of a work, or even the tendency 
of popular desire, weigh in the balance. A sort 
of hopeless routine maintains some of them in 
existence, yet they are a power, and have done 
much to set a standard for the numerous healthy 
choral societies which alone keep art alive in 
many a town. Yet music, the theatre, the 
popular " music-hall" are separate things de- 
signed to meet existing demands, and depen- 
dent upon the conditions to which unhappily 
they have fallen a prey. 



And if you doubt this go to a Musical Festival 
Committee, or a theatre, and talk to the or- 
ganisers about Art and Beauty, and hear their 
answers from them rather than from me. 

It is more fruitful to turn for a few minutes 
to the work achieved by composers in spite 
of these conditions. For those composers who 
have survived the obstacles which custom and 
narrowness of outlook have thrust before them 
are full of the spirit of the old bards. We 
have in fact a case of the survival of the fittest. 
The fact that they have been compelled to 
write for Choral Festivals and Societies has 
led to an amazing development of choral sing- 
ing, especially in Yorkshire and Wales. When 
a man is writing for a fashionable opera-house 
or for the commercial theatre, he may indulge 
in many a folly. But he whose work is to be 
sung by and to the people must purge himself 
of all dross. 

For music is the communal, the brotherly Art. 
Choral and dramatic compositions blend the 
emotions of a multitude, and express the ideas of 
the composer. One need not be a critic or an 
expert to enjoy the great works of our own 
day, for it is the business of the bard to make 
himself clear, and the only composers to be 
mentioned in this study are those who have 



something in common with the normal feelings 
of human beings. 

The most typical English composer is Sir 
Hubert Parry. His music is that of the old 
school, the kind of men who believe in God and 
do not despise good port. No one is more 
sound spiritually, and in few works is there a 
nobler conception of Life and Death than in his 
choral poem "Beyond these Voices there is 
Peace," while his " Pied Piper of Hamelin" is 
a work of delightful humour. Stratford, too, 
has " A Piper " of its own, piping the pipe of 
peace through all the narrow Hamelins of 
England, wakening into life the true folk-spirit 
of our real selves. And many a work of Choral 
England is so in harmony with the spirit of 
the movement as to make these notes worth 

The obvious leader of the modern British 
school is Sir Edward Elgar. The undiscrimi- 
nating eulogy of those who see in him Alpha 
and Omega, cannot blind us to the fact that 
Elgar is a man who has beaten down academic 
tradition, and put the oratorio in touch with the 

And it is this popular touch which alone is 
of any importance in Art. For here, under 
natural conditions, popularity loses its old 



significance. No longer is the word " popular " 
a gibe, standing in the handcuffs of inverted 
commas, but signifying the approval of a people 
who know how to enjoy. 

The technique of Elgar is very wonderful. 
He learnt much from Wagner, and also from 
Richard Strauss. Indeed, he owes to Strauss 
the second hearing, and consequent success, of 
his great work, " The Dream of Gerontius." 
The Birmingham Festival production was a 
failure. Elgar himself is not one of those men 
to become popular in a moment. But the 
work was given at the Lower Rhine Festival, 
Dtisseldorf, 1902, and Strauss made a speech 
which caused musical England to be thoroughly 
ashamed of itself, and gave Elgar his real 

Those who have neither heard nor read the 
work will have gathered that it deals with 
Death, and that the music is difficult to sing 
and to understand. At the end of a hard day's 
work this is so. I first heard it under those 
conditions, and had to travel to and fro over 
sixty miles. Every throb of the great poem 
beats within me yet. Yet how much better 
would it be in the twilight of golden holiday, 
with peace upon the river, and silence in the 
theatre of our dreams. 

1 60 

Photo by Ellis & H'alery 



Nor can those of us who regard national art 
as a vital thing ignore " Caractacus," produced 
at the Leeds Festival of 1904. It is great be- 
cause it deals with one of our national heroes, 
and the music is that of a strong man, who 
burns with faith, in whose own soul conflict 
between Christianity and Paganism has been 
fought, and whose art is the soul's battle-ground. 
That is why the great, thundering choruses of 
" Caractacus " go straight home. And it is 
because " King Olaf " lacks this quality that it 
is merely a picturesque piece of music. 

Again, Elgar is a Catholic, a man who 
believed in Gordon, and who, like the hero of 
Khartum, combines a noble faith with good 
fighting qualities. Gordon's favourite poem 
was Cardinal Newman's (< Dream of Gerontius," 
the wonderful vision that tells of the soul of a 
man, seemingly dead, arriving before the throne 
of the great King in judgment. Gordon died 
with that poem in his pocket. Elgar lived, 
and will live for ever as composer, because he 
expressed in music the atmosphere of the poem, 
and is able to plunge a chorus, an orchestra, 
and an audience into a sublime state of sub- 
conscious actuality. And when Elgar writes 
" Pomp and Circumstance " military marches, 
or sets to music drawing-room songs, it is all 

161 L 


very well, and when he composes a great 
symphony or a new violin concerto it is a 
festive day for musical people. But it is as 
the bard of Caractacus and as the priest of 
Gerontius that he will live. 

Elgar too has been exercised as to the future 
of music as a general rather than a specialised 
art. His proposal, amplified a little by me 
for purposes of illustration, is something like 
this : 

Let the money that is wasted on stupid 
certificates and scholarships be spent in pro- 
viding concert-halls. Let those concert-halls 
be fitted with a proscenium, so that, in case of 
need, musico-dramatic works can be performed. 
The English temperament prefers choral to 
purely orchestral or operatic work ; therefore, 
these public " music-halls " must not be mere 
theatres. But let them be so arranged that 
the following types of work may be pro- 
duced : 

(a) Choral works, varying from " Gerontius " 
to " Hiawatha," the soloists wearing simple 
gowns rather than the costume of the modern 
dance or dinner party. 

(3) Cantatas like Handel's " L'Allegro." 

(c) Wagner's dramas and Greek plays with 
music, also British music-drama, beginning 



with Purcell, produced as upon the ordinary 
stage, only better. 

If this is at all his idea, Sir Edward has 
given voice to a general feeling, by no means 
out of harmony with Stratford. 

For one of the features of London music in 
1910 was Madame Marie Brema's produc- 
tion of Purcell's "Orpheus" and Handel's 
" L' Allegro." 

Now the " Allegro," which is, of course, 
a setting of Milton's poem (combined with 
alternating passages from " Penseroso "), is full 
of scenic suggestion and beauty, though pro- 
duced hitherto as a mere " cantata." Madame 
Brema has boldly staged it, and never, save at 
Bayreuth, have I seen a work more satisfying. 
The absence of the stale operatic lust and 
nonsense, instead of causing a lack of interest, 
creates a natural and human atmosphere un- 
usual in the theatre. Handel no more seems 
dull, nor Milton's muse remote, because the 
joy of rustic dance alternates with spiritual 
beauty in the stage picture. It is English to 
the core, a veritable Folk Festival. 

Too long has choral England left a gap 
between oratorio and opera. Both are un- 
natural. Elijah in evening dress is as absurd 
a spectacle as the conspirators in " Rigoletto," 


who roar at one another " Let us be silent." 
Nothing could be more natural than to see 
Milton's " pensive nun" and his jolly English 
dancers realise upon the stage the simple 
beauty of the work. Truly, one may say 
" Hence, loathed melancholy." 

And in Gluck's " Orpheus" this was even 
more the case. The legend of Orpheus deals 
with the idea of Music as a power on earth, in 
heaven, and in the dismal cave where dwell 
the Furies, all the untamed bestialities of life. 
Angrily they threaten Orpheus, who gradually 
quells their torment and sings them back to 
human feeling again. Never shall I forget 
that scene, wherein a tortuous forest of writhing 
limbs dumbly proclaimed bodily unrest, while 
the air was full of the torment of souls in 
sound. And this legend of Orpheus has much 
akin to the tales of Oisin, the Irish hero, sung 
by Mr. Yeats. 

I mention this Greek play, partly because 
the union of Greek feeling in the art of our 
people tends to emphasise the Greek elements 
of Christianity. Recent research confirms the 
belief that Christ Himself spoke Greek, and 
therefore is by no means to be considered as 
Judaistic. St. Paul frankly proclaimed himself 
as a citizen of the Roman Imperium, while his 



culture was Greek, his teaching, too, being full 
of Hellenic ideas. This question is important 
to us as a race, for the belief that we are 
essentially Jewish in religion, basing our con- 
ceptions upon Jewish tradition, prevents a full 
value being given to our own national customs 
and natural ideals in art and life. But another 
practical object in referring to Madame Brema's 
experiment. In his book on " Musical England" 
(p. 112), Mr. W. G. Galloway pleads for a 
broader policy on the part of Musical Festivals. 
He would have them include in their pro- 
grammes both dramatic works and so-called 
oratorios and choral poems. Bristol has gone 
so far as to perform Wagnerian drama without 
scenery, but no further response has come or 
is to be expected. 

The unhappy divorce between music and 
drama is seen in yet another way, exempli- 
fied by the mediaeval play " Everyman," the 
dramatic version of which has been produced 
by Mr. Poel and others. This was the subject 
of Dr. Walford Davies' first great choral work 
(Leeds Festival, 1904), and both in its atmos- 
phere and simple strength is one of the greatest 
works written by a Briton. 

Here is a clear case of power lost by 
separated effort. We have an oratorio and 



a spoken play instead of a united effort such 
as would have resulted had the various arts 
had common centres and a unified public. 

If Stratford should encourage choral work, 
and meet with encouragement to do so, our 
Musical Festivals themselves would gather 
much useful knowledge by the experiment, 
which they could develop in their own cities. 

Having seen what the Festivals have done 
for music, and in an oblique and obscure way 
for drama (without scenery), let us glance at 
the fate of poetry amid all this specialisation. 

Apart from the old oratorio, which is simply 
drama marred in the making, the modern com- 
poser can do two things which the dramatist 
cannot attempt, and which supplements the 
drama on the one side as does dancing on 
the other : 

(a) The setting of narrative poems for 
chorus and orchestra. 

(6) The setting of poems to expressive 

In these arts, especially in the latter, Elgar, 
Bantock, Stanford, and Walford Davies excel. 

Walford Davies, for instance, has more of 
the poet about him than Elgar, as the choice 
of Blake's " Songs of Innocence" and Herrick's 
" Noble Numbers" indicates. 

1 66 


Stanford excels as an arranger of folk-song, 
with the brogue peculiar to his native Ireland. 

People do not read poetry nowadays. They 
shrink from the imaginative effort. And, in 
view of the beauty of our poems, it is a 
fortunate thing that our composers are good 
readers of poetry. Granville Bantock's study 
is full of poems. " The Time Spirit" and 
" Sea Wanderers," by Helen Bantock, are the 
very life of the choral works which her husband 
has developed from them. There is nothing 
of the minor poet about her : she is capable of 
restraint, of "mood," which are the foundation 
of choral or dramatic poetry. And these works, 
especially the latter, which was first performed 
at Leeds Festival (1907), enable thousands of 
people to hear poetry, not merely to sit at 
home and read it. 

Then again his "Sappho Songs ;; (for con- 
tralto) are among the loveliest of their kind. 
Founded upon fragments of Sappho's poems, 
translated by H. T. Wharton, Granville Ban- 
tock has made them the medium of a series 
of mood pictures, showing the varying colours 
of sexual passion. They are pure, noble utter- 
ances, varying from brooding reminiscence, as 
in " I loved thee, Atthis, long ago," through 
the beautiful sorrow of the "Lament for 



Adonis," to the victorious and joyful rhapsody 
of the lover who finds a mate. 

But the wider public regards Bantock as the 
creator of the choral and orchestral setting of 
Fitzgerald's " Omar Khayydm." The value of 
this work can never be known until it has been 
set upon the stage, each of its three parts an 
Act, in a garden scene of languorous afternoon. 
The composer wisely has divided the quatrains 
dramatically between the Poet, the Beloved, 
and the Philosopher, leaving the descriptive 
parts to the chorus. Under Stratford condi- 
tions a work of this kind, though not a play 
in the ordinary sense, would provide us with 
a delightful " static drama/' Concert condi- 
tions are most unsatisfactory with such a work. 

The restful atmosphere of the garden, and 
the special qualities of the philosophy have 
never been fully understood. No less a 
nationalist than Professor Geddes has empha- 
sised the value of Omar to the Western mind. 
For it must never be forgotten that we are of 
Aryan stock, that the Indo-European race links 
East and West. 

If our politicians were more alive to that 
the race difficulties in India would dwindle to 

Our mixture with the Semites, noble though 


the Jews be among races, has blinded us to 
our common heritage, along with Eastern 
peoples, to be found in Eastern legend and 
thought. But until, as a race, we are more 
self-conscious, we cannot come back to the 
Eastern home of Old Father Wisdom. 

Our own immediate forbears claim us through 
the art which is within our immediate grasp, the 
song of the Anglo-Celts. 

Since Purcell, 1690, with his "Dido and 
yEneas " and " King Arthur/' we have had no 
true national style. Music has been too much 
a matter of abstract culture, too little a means 
of expressing popular feeling. Yet in these 
days, with life so complex, with large orchestras 
and choral societies everywhere ; with a world 
so full of joy and sorrow ; in the midst of 
political change, with the air tremulous with 
national anxieties ; surely the time has come 
for the bard to lead national feeling, and to 
bring courage and hope into the people's life. 
The great public is tired of lust, horror, and 
stupidity on the operatic stage. Nor does it 
desire dull, trite, academic twistings of the 
Scriptures in the choral works of uninspired 

In the old times folk-song was the very life 
of the -country, the vocal expression of Merrie 



England, in the days of the dance and the 
maypole. Therefore the modern composer is 
right in turning again to the popular folk-song. 
To bring the folk-song from the public-house 
of the countryside into the public hall of the 
Choral Society is a sound basis for a national 
art. By this I do not mean that any musician 
who writes an elaborate and windy orchestral 
piece, based upon tunes stolen from the library 
of a collector of folk-music, is saving his 

When Rutland Boughton produced his 
" Choral Variations on English Folk Songs" 
at the Leeds Festival (1907), I had never 
heard of him. And it was through Mr. Ban- 
tock's cordial praise that I came into touch 
with his ideas, and into contact with his work 
to bring music into the hospitals, the prisons, 
and the workhouses, as well as the theatre. 

Therefore one may take him seriously when 
he sets folk-songs for choruses, avowedly for 
the purpose of bringing people together in a 
brotherly way, through the Arts. 

His method of setting works for unaccom- 
panied chorus is on the same free, melodic 
lines as Elgar's orchestral writing. 

After the success of the Leeds folk-songs 
the Birmingham Festival of 1909 accepted his 



setting of Edward Carpenter's poem, "A Song 
at Midnight." This is quite as rhythmical as 
the songs, but set for full orchestra and chorus. 
And it is a musical version of a poem treating 
directly of the conditions of modern life. It 
deals in a human way with the sweated needle- 
woman, using up her last bit of candle ; with 
the agonies of the sick, with the remorse of 
evil-doers ; with the clangour of bells tolling 
the hours of darkness away, ringing the knell 
of a night of social horror. But this Rembrandt- 
like composition is lit with hope. The music 
and the voices of singers proclaim the advance 
of tramping millions, marching through the 
night with the joyful hope of dawn. 

" These are they who dream the impossible 
dream/' is the burden of this great canticle of 
social regeneration. 

Certain features of this led to the conception 
of a new dramatic form, Choral Drama, in 
which the idea of the Greek chorus is united 
with the orchestra. This of course clears 
away the difficulty that besets lyrical drama. 

The chorus represents the people, and stands 
as it were between the audience and the prin- 
cipal characters, combining the descriptive 
power of massed voices with the individual 
nature of the legendary heroes. 



Now I believe that when our choral forces 
join with the dramatic in visualising and 
vocalising the great sagas of our people, a 
truly Shakespearean development will have 
stepped in. 

While the composers whom I have men- 
tioned are in my opinion typical of this popular 
tendency, there are many others whom I have 
included in other studies, but of whom space 
forbids mention here. 

For instance, Dr. Vaughan Williams, in his 
Sea Symphony, no less than in folk-song 
variations, is a power for good. 

Francis Toye in the Boxford Masque, and 
men who, like Mr. Shann at Bury St. Edmunds, 
organise village masques or pageants, are 
typical of others who all over the country are 
stirring the embers and kindling the fires of 
national consciousness anew. 

But the difficulties, indeed the apathy with 
which my inquiries have been met, emphasise 
the need for the centralising of all these forces 
and the keeping of a central record. 

So far the isolated worker in the water-tight 
compartments of specialised Arts has had no 
means of conferring and working with his 

Now I do not suggest that the Shakespeare 


Memorial Festival should become a choral 
meeting. But I believe that, by incorporating 
in the scheme representative works such as I 
have outlined, new blood and new energy would 
be drawn into the Movement. The Choral 
North would come to the Avon banks, and 
their picked festival choruses could speak to 
our hearts in a language that we understand. 
And they in turn would form the audience for 
alternating Shakespearean and Greek dramatic 
works, and the sedentary art of choral singing 
would find interplay perhaps in Folk Dancing, 
or at least in witnessing the dancing in the 
open air. 

Instead of all working separately with their 
own publics and methods they would regard 
Stratford as a clearing-house of English Art, 
and of Art more than English. 

For Canada above all cousin states has taken 
song for her Dominion. Dr. Harris with his 
Canadian chorus, with his frankly national 
programmes, could draw tighter those bonds 
of love that are forged by the Song God. The 
music of Macdowell, America's greatest com- 
poser, could unite with that of Elgar in a new 

Australia, rich in singers and poets ; New 
Zealand, truly a land of zeal, would be there. 


Indeed, from the Seven Seas would come the 
tribes to be sealed at Stratford. 

That unity of race which has marked out 
Judaism among the nations, would set the 
Anglo-Celtic peoples, the Indo-European race 
at common cause. 

And I would have the reader remember 
that, in the past, the Dane, the Norman, and 
the Teuton have come into our midst as a 
result of feud and of battle. But I believe 
that the fusion of the future will be not "of 
garments rolled in blood," but with the power 
of song, and by the sword of the spirit. And, 
while the politician may hope to bind with a 
bond metallic, the artist looks to the heart- 

Wherever this book wanders, from the very 
heart of England's Stratford goes the race- 
spirit, which is Love to you. Nor can .you 
escape it. If the bloodhound's scent be strong, 
how much stronger the kinship that comes 
down the ages. 

And as you read it, especially Indians, who 
do not know the kinship between our Arthurian 
cycle with your Ramayana, remember before 
the cosmopolitan spirit has widened the breach. 

Nationalism not only reaches to the heart of 
India, and finds a homeland on every shore of 


the Seven Seas, but goes deep down into the 
past, to the first gleaming hopes of the race 
before we became tribes, before we began to 
forget each other as do brothers who have lived 
long in distant lands. 

The Movement has reached a stage which 
demands development. 

Imperial Federation is in the air, yet never 
was there a time when Little England was so 
essentially the homeland of a great people. 

Municipal reform expresses itself through 
the universities, by means of architectural 
training and the art of civic design, com- 
plemented with the efforts of garden cities 
and town-planning schemes. 

Beauty is becoming a part of our practical 
politics, as in "the spacious days of great 
Elizabeth," a phrase no longer hackneyed if 
we care to give it a meaning. 

The time has come to speak out : to say 
to the singers and players of England, " The 
Round Table is spread " ; to the dramatists, 
"The Sword of Power that was Shakespeare's 
is set in the stone four-square. Let him that 
is king among you draw it forth ! " to the 
educationists, " Behold in Stratford all that 
England can do in the way of Art. Let the 
children see and hear, that, when they be 


grown-up, they may be an understanding 
people, with joy and beauty in their hearts, 
and with love for us " ; to the sages of- Eng- 
land, "Come here for your councils''; and to 
the workmen, " Here is a place where men 
have laboured for your joy. Rest from your 
toil beholding theirs." 


Photo by C. Histed 




ART can be practical without precept. A coal- 
scuttle well wrought in bronze may be as useful 
as a zinc tub without in any way pointing a 
moral or otherwise destroying its beauty. 

And if we take all the Arts separately they 
have their uses. 

The architect who built a house that could 
not be inhabited would stand in the same 
relation to his art as the dramatist who pro- 
duced a work which the common mind could 
not comprehend. 

Beauty is the first principle of Art, but fitness 
for its purpose is a postulate without which we 
could not go far. 

In the earlier part of this book we have 
dealt with the physical arts of Song and Dance 
developing into the communal Art of Drama. 

And in comparing various phases and forms 
we have seen that a social quality therein 
determined their interest both for us and for 
those taking part in them. 

177 M 


Architecture is the body of communal art, as 
is drama its soul. 

Dramatic creation gives the conception of 
beauty, awakens the emotions, and guides us 
through all the regions of passion and peace. 

Architecture is able to build a home for the 
lover ; a workshop for the worker ; a temple 
for the worshipper ; and a theatre for the 
dreams of a community. 

Therefore it seems to me that in some way 
Stratford-upon-Avon should, by means of Con- 
gresses or Exhibitions, focus at her national 
fount this dramaturgy in stone upon which the 
outward form of our future must depend. This 
seems the more desirable seeing that the place 
of the theatre in modern civic life is not 

If Stratford-upon-Avon is to be more than a 
dramatic Spa we must also evolve something 
in the way of a University of the Arts, where 
in the most pleasurable way ideas may be 
gathered of the kind of city which the future 
holds for us. 

Shakespeare certainly was no sociologist. 
But it was not without an object that he gave 
us " The Tempest " with its types of Prospero, 
Caliban, Trinculo, and Gonzalo. The forces 
at work in our midst are Idealism, Animalism 


(or Sin), and Flabbyism, the half-baked slippery 
thing which is neither in earnest nor entirely 

In the world to-day we have a great many 
Calibans; the Trinculos and Stephanos abound; 
while Prosperos are few. 

Surely Shakespeare himself was Prospero, 
and in his other characters was consciously 
symbolising the qualities of his own day. 
There is no sign of allegory in " The Tempest," 
but the grouping of characters : Ferdinand and 
Miranda, the primal pair of a period ; Caliban 
making the air reek with his grossness while 
Ariel tunes it to perfumed loveliness ; Gonzalo, 
who knows all about it, and the drinkers who 
do not care a button : these are social types, 
not personal characters, such as Falstaff, nor 
dramatisations of Fate, Passion, or Perversity. 

But they are no more the results of conscious 
and deliberate artifice than was Wagner's 
" Tristan " or Mr. John Galsworthy's " Justice," 
which caused Mr. Winston Churchill, then 
Home Secretary, to alter the prison code. 
Mr. Galsworthy, who, with Masefield and 
others, is of modern dramatists the most 
Shakespearean, takes such subjects as " Strife " 
or " Justice/' and gives you the ramifications of 
the central passion, as it flows red through the 



veins of living man. He does not take sides, 
but lets such questions as Capital versus Labour 
and the prison question provide the dramatic 
interest of his plays. 

And I take Galsworthy as a type because 
he never lays down the law. He is neither a 
preacher who has mistaken his profession nor 
an aimless aesthete wasting his own time and 
ours. He has proved that the life of our own 
day may be dramatic. 

Masefield, too, in his " Pompey the Great/ 1 
has succeeded in writing a Roman play, which 
is topical to-day. The problems of Rome and 
the humanities of Romans are interesting to 
us in so far as they were true to their time. 
There is no cold classicalism about it ; the 
writing is rhythmic without formality ; and the 
use of the sailor's chanty in the great concluding 
scene reminds one not only that John Mase- 
field has been a sailor and is a poet, but that 
the Greek Chorus can be reborn to us in many 
forms and with perfect results. The historical 
drama did not die with Shakespeare, and 
politics to-day differ only from those of ancient 
Rome in scene and setting. 

In treating such a question as the practicality 
of Art there is a danger of offending both ( sides. 
If one say that the drama is a pleasurable 

i So 


interest, not a method of teaching, the earnest 
man is disappointed. And when one turns to 
the dissolute dabblers who have spoiled the 
contemporary stage, they meet one with the 
cry, " Drama is an amusement, not a source 
of education." 

What is the truth ? 

The plain facts are these : 

(a) The habitual amusement of our deformed 
and defiled cities no longer is pleasurable to 
normal people ; nor would it have found favour 
in any robust or intellectual age. 

(&) But, along with town-planning and hous- 
ing reform, folk-dancing and the awaking 
patriotism of the race, new conditions of life 
are coming into being, and Pleasure and Art 
once more are coming together. 

That town - planning, the Shakespearean 
drama, folk-art, and the race-spirit are not 
separate subjects, but one and indivisible ; and 
that the Arts differ only in method, but all are 
meant to express the health and joy of man, 
is no isolated opinion. 

Professor Geddes, both in his writings and 
lectures, in his work for the Dunfermline civic 
experiments, and in his exhibits at the Out- 
look Tower, Edinburgh, was among the first 
to co-ordinate these various phases into one 



subject. And Mr. Brassington, the Memorial 
Librarian, is a strong advocate of a University 
of the Arts. 1 

If the reader should be sceptical as to a new 
order of civic life a few historical facts would 
not come amiss. 

I repeat that the drama must not preach 
regeneration, but itself must be regenerate as 
the expression and the inspiration of practical 
effort. Hence the relationship to town-plan- 
ning. In 1902 the villages of Letchworth, 
Norton, and Willian contained about 700 
inhabitants. A company was formed to take 
over the estate and to realise the ideas of a 
city which Mr. Ebenezer Howard had set out 
in his " Garden Cities of To-morrow." His 
scheme was, briefly, as follows : 

(a) To erect good houses and cottages, each 
with its plot of land. 

(&) To encourage manufactories, which were 
to be restricted to a certain area, separate from 
the residential part. 

(c) To bind the whole together in a unified 
and organic way by an agricultural belt. 

1 These I mention, among others, to disclaim originality 
in the matter. And Mr. Benson, of whom I cannot speak 
freely in this volume, comprehends this essential unity of 
life. R. R. B. 



This plan was so worked out that over- 
crowding became impossible, and, when the 
population has grown to about 30,000, de- 
velopment will cease. 

By the end of 1910 about 7500 inhabitants 
were established there with more than twenty 
factories of various kinds, including printing 
works, a tapestry guild, and the Iceni pottery. 
Nor was this all. 

Being its own landlord the Company could 
enforce a decent regard for health and beauty. 

The inhabitants, many of them attracted to 
the place as a possible field for social and artistic 
experiment, set great store by the drama. 

Not only does their Dramatic Society produce 
plays of the better kind, but each year a local 
pantomime, in the form of a satire upon their 
own social experiment, has enlivened the place. 
Letchworth Garden City is a standing proof that 
the city as we know it is not an ordinance of 
Providence, but a temporary phase, born of 
accident and misdirected energy. Letchworth 
provides an example of a new, organic com- 
munity, springing up, not from accident, but as 
the result of a preconceived plan. 

At Knebworth Lord Lytton is developing 
a garden city on similar lines, while garden 
suburbs are growing up all over the country. 


At Bournville and Port Sunlight large manu- 
facturers have grouped similar communities 
around their works, thus bringing healthy con- 
ditions within the means of their employees. 

I admit that these experiments are social and 
architectural rather than dramatic. 

But, with a well-ordered society, public taste 
will awaken to the finer and more delightful 
aspects of life. 

Of course, being modern and without any 
central tradition and guide, these new cities are 
not destined to be centres of national gather- 
ings, stimulating though they certainly are. 
And this is where practical and ideal unite. 

Unless I am much mistaken civic design, 
including agricultural and artistic develop- 
ment, will find its fulfilment at Stratford-upon- 

Apart from the Theatre the development of 
Stratford naturally would be upon the lines of 
Professor Geddes' " Study in City Develop- 
ment." For, not being a garden city, but a 
borough with a great tradition and natural 
beauty, nothing is needed save the carrying 
out of the few suggestions which follow. 

The Grammar School of King Edward VI. 
can trace its actual origin to the Ancient Guild 
of the Holy Cross, before 1269. This Guild 



was threatened by Henry VIII. but escaped 
suppression, being however reconstituted in 
the next reign. This fact would be known to 
Shakespeare before he conceived his " Henry 
VIII.," and probably was not forgotten in 
writing it, 

The Parish Church, close to the river, marks 
the resting-place of Shakespeare and maintains 
its spiritual uses. Its cruciform shape, the old 
sanctuary knocker, and memorials of names 
well known in the spacious days of the last 
great revival of national and artistic feeling, 
bind us to the past. 

Nor does the Theatre stand alone. With it 
are the Picture Gallery and Library. 

And near the Theatre stands the great statue 
and monument by Lord Ronald Sutherland 

Thus we have the elements of civic life : the 
School, Church, Library, Picture Gallery, and 

So that in suggesting that Stratford should 
be, more than it is, a Festival place and Folk- 
Meet for the race, the claim is not made with- 
out the existence of the elements essential to 
such an idea. Many cities have these things, 
but nowhere else has been so favoured by 
fortune, nor is there any borough in England 


that combines to this degree the essential 
qualities of city and country. 

How far Stratford can go on garden city 
lines is a matter of detail for its burgesses. 

But its artistic development depends upon 
the ability of national scholars and artists to 
render it as unsurpassable as Venice in her 
splendour ; and upon the capacity of the people 
for pleasure, and for labour. 

One of Professor Geddes' most fruitful ideas 
is that each town or city should so organise 
the playful energy of boys as to get them to 
construct a primitive village. If, with the 
guidance of a practical and scholarly man, 
they dig the cave of the troglodyte and build 
the primitive hut, they will have made a 
valuable study in sociology. For from the 
early activities of mankind they can be led 
in magic succession from point to point. Thus 
will they be educated. 

Gradually a village could be built, revealing 
the origin and practice of handicrafts. 

An Art Museum, and a Rock Garden for 
the proper study of geology and botany, could 
be evolved. Thus would Stratford become of 
enormous educational interest to the people. 

Professor Geddes goes so far as to suggest 
the organisation of Jd. donkey rides, so that 



the healthy pleasures of the seaside also could 
be enjoyed. A sand-pit would extend this 
idea. So there is no reason why the children 
should not see " The Piper " and Shakespeare 
under festival conditions. 

In fact, there is no joy in life or useful 
knowledge that could not well be grafted upon 
the existing organisations of this God-given 

Support can be given by the simple means 
of spending holidays there, or by endowment 
of some special feature. 

The Theatre is bound by its articles to 
divide no profits, but to use them for develop- 
ment. Like the School or Church it is not a 
speculative enterprise. 

And when one thinks of what Andrew 
Carnegie has done for Dunfermline by putting 
into practice Professor Geddes' ideas and his 
own, it seems certain that in good time Strat- 
ford will be able to show the world a system of 
organised beauty that will purify the life of 
the many cities that may follow the example. 

For instance, a social club, furnished simply 
to represent the art and economy of the home, 
would set a standard for all who saw it, while 
the living drama and calm beauty of the place 
would stimulate the intellect and emotions, so 


that souls dimmed by civilisation would find 
themselves become not copyists but original 
and individual men and women. 

Viewed solely as a place of summer-holiday, 
in which the delights of Shakespearean art 
mingle with the pleasures of mediaeval memory 
and the exhilaration of sunlight and fresh air, 
Stratford-upon-Avon makes a strong appeal. 

But how much more alluring is the Piper's 
tune, the spell that lures grown-ups and children 
along the bright ways of Art ! 

And those of us who love the name of 
Shakespeare, and hear his full tone best in the 
place of his birth, see more than this. 

For where men meet in brotherhood there 
begins a strong peace and a blood-pact. The 
spirit of the Folk-Meet binds us and we are 
one people, bound by a common Fatherhood 
and a mutual joy. 

And our dreams, whether of Life or the 
living Art, become holy, and our aims gain a 
common purpose, for England is the heart of 
the Anglo-Celtic people, and Stratford Eng- 
land's heart, beating with all the loyal love 
which is ours to give and to gain. 

1 88 





No more suitable spot could have been chosen 
for a theatre devoted to such ideals as those of 
the Shakespearean Memorial than Stratford- 
upon-Avon. Alike for the beauty of the little 
old-world town and of its surrounding country, 
and for its associations as the birthplace of 
Shakespeare, it is beloved on both sides of the 
Atlantic, and makes an ideal meeting-ground 
for all the English-speaking people. 

The Theatre is built in the midst of a beauti- 
ful garden on the banks of the river Avon. 
Time has already mellowed its walls and begun 
to cover them with ivy and trailing greenery. 
At Stratford, on a summer's day, with the 
Theatre doors open on to the river, radiant in 
sunshine, and with its pollard willows making 
a delicate green shadow, and with one's ears 
full of the rhythm of Shakespeare's verse, one 
might well be back in the days when men saw 



in all beauty, whether of colour or sound or 
movement, some symbol of the gods they 
worshipped. And there is no jar between the 
play inside its walls and the surroundings in 
which one can walk between the acts and after 
the play is over, all is so different from the 
crowded city street into which so many theatres 
open in other places. Here all is peaceful and 
idyllic, and helpful to the best understanding 
of our national drama. 

This means that in the very heart of England, 
close not only to the countryside with its rural 
traditions but to the manufacturing towns, not 
less intrinsically part of the national life, is a 
theatre, intended by its founders to keep alive 
the love of all that is most characteristic of 
English dramatic art. 

The Shakespeare Memorial Theatre (to give 
its official and registered title) is owned and 
managed by an Association of Governors, the 
chief part of the practical work being in the 
hands of a committee of management. The 
Corporation of Stratford-upon-Avon is repre- 
sented ex officio among the Governors by the 
Mayor and six aldermen, and the remainder of 
the body is composed of people of position in 
the county or the borough, or of eminence in 
literature, art, or the drama. 


Photo by Ellis & Walery 



In addition to the actual Theatre, the Shake- 
speare Memorial comprises also a Library and 
Picture Gallery, both of which contain much 
that is of special interest to those who visit 
Stratford-upon-Avon, as well as a tower, from 
the top of which can be seen the country, the 
villages, and the distant hills which Shake- 
speare knew from boyhood to his last years. 

The Library and the very comfortable 
Reading-room are on the ground floor. The 
Memorial Library contains some 10,000 books 
and pamphlets, including several of the early 
quartos and all the first four folios, 1623, 1632, 
1664, an d 1685. Here, too, is Garrick's own 
copy of Rowe's edition, 1 709 ; and here are 
nearly all the collected editions ever published 
in the English language, including some of 
the now very scarce early American editions. 
Here is also a unique collection of transla- 
tions of Shakespeare into foreign tongues, 
some thirty languages, including many Indian 
dialects, Japanese and Chinese, being re- 
presented. Truly a wonderful collection, a 
wonderful tribute to the genius of the greatest 
of Englishmen. 

Other valuable books of Shakespeareana, 
dramatic history, English drama, local topo- 
graphy, heraldry, archaeology, and general 

193 N 


reference add to the interest of the collection, 
and all these works may be studied by any 
one who procures a reader's ticket from the 

The Library has a small endowment, besides 
a special fund raised by the present Librarian ; 
but, of course, any bequests or donations of 
money or of books required are welcome, and 
such a gift is no bad way of linking the donor 
with the town and memory of Shakespeare. 
The Reading-room is open to visitors, and the 
Memorial Librarian, Mr. W. Salt Brassington, 
F.S.A., is always ready to give students and 
inquirers the benefit of his learning and 
advice. Without further description it may 
be said that the Library is one in which the 
Shakespearean student will find all that he can 

The Picture Gallery contains some notable 
paintings. First there is the famous portrait 
of William Shakespeare, painted on a panel 
in the Italian style and dating from the early 
part of the seventeenth century ; it is quite 
possible that this is the original of the Martin 
Droeshout engraving which appears opposite 
the title-page in the first folio of the plays 
(1623). The portrait is painted on two planks 
of old English elm, prepared with white plaster, 



primed red, and bearing in the top left-hand 
corner the inscription, " William Shakespeare, 
1609." This picture has been pronounced, on 
the unimpeachable authority of leading con- 
noisseurs, to be a genuine early seventeenth 
century painting. That it represents the same 
man as the engraving in the first folio no 
one can doubt. The only question on which 
scholars disagree is this : Was the engraving 
made from the picture, or was the picture 
painted from the engraving ? 

Other portraits of Shakespeare here collected 
are a photograph of the Droeshout engraving, 
the "Venice"' portrait, the " Jacob Tonson" 
portrait, the " Willett " portrait, the D'Avenant 
bust a copy of the original in the Garrick Club, 
London, which was discovered in 1845 bricked 
up in the wall of the old "Duke's Theatre" 
in Lincoln's Inn Fields and the "Napier" 
portrait ; while at the foot of the stairs stands 
a copy of the statue of 1740 in Westminster 
Abbey by Kent and Scheemakers. It need 
hardly be said that none of these have the 
authority of the Droeshout engraving and 
portrait, or of the bust on the monument in 
Holy Trinity Church. 

In view of the excellence of the catalogue, 
we must resist the temptation to linger over 



the hundreds of drawings, paintings, engrav- 
ings, miniatures, and relics of Shakespearean 
scenes and characters, of famous actors and 
actresses, of dead and bygone productions, 
which the generosity of students, scholars, 
players, and Shakespeareans of England, 
Europe, and America has brought together 
within these walls. The collection is increas- 
ing in importance and size every year, and the 
problem of space will soon become a serious 

A stone's-throw from the original group of 
buildings of the Memorial there is also a 
Lecture-room, which has a small stage for the 
purposes of lectures, recitals, or concerts. This 
hall is used as a club-room for visitors during 
the annual Festivals, and as a gallery for the 
exhibition of pictures on loan. 

Of the actual record of Shakespearean and 
other performances given in the course of the 
thirty-four years' existence of the Memorial 
Theatre, some account has already been given 
in the opening chapter of this volume, but the 
present brief consideration of the varied in- 
terests grouped around the several departments 
of the Memorial building brings us back appro- 
priately to the subject of the annual Shake- 
speare Festival. Every year, for three weeks, 



beginning as near as possible to April 23 
(St. George's Day, and the traditional day 
of Shakespeare's birth), Stratford-upon-Avon 
holds a festival of Shakespeare which is 
attended by numbers of visitors from all parts 
of England, and not a few from other parts of 
the Empire, from the United States and the 
countries of Europe. If the reader were to 
find himself in Bridge Street on the morning 
of the opening day of a Festival, he would see 
it a brilliant avenue of flags, banners, shields, 
and decorations, some made in Stratford and 
given from afar. At the head of the street 
stands the flagstaff bearing the huge Union 
Jack presented by the King. Near it is 
the flag of Wales, presented by the Prince 
of Wales, and the long line of flagstaffs 
down the wide street bears the standards also 
of Scotland, Ireland, the Colonies, and all the 
King's dominions beyond the seas, and of all 
the nations of the world, all presented by their 
official representatives in England. The shields 
of all nations are here too, for Shakespeare is 
the world's property and all peoples combine 
to do him honour. At one minute to the 
hour appointed all these flags are still furled ; 
but round them are grouped the ambassadors 
or other representatives of various countries 



who have come to take part in the Festival ; 
and as the clock strikes each pulls the cord 
which looses his country's flag to the breeze. 
Simultaneously the band strikes up, and the 
crowd of spectators, the boys from the Grammar 
School, and the children of the town join in the 
National Anthem. 

On April 23, which is celebrated as the 
poet's birthday, a procession passes along the 
gaily decorated streets, each of which bears 
its particular message expressed in its colours 
and designs, down to the Parish Church of 
the Holy Trinity, where Shakespeare was 
baptized and where he lies buried. Flowers 
are here in profusion, for when the brief 
service, with its address and its music, is over, 
every visitor present will place a wreath or 
a bouquet, be it only a school-child's bunch of 
flowers, on the tomb of Shakespeare. On the 
way back from the Church the visitor will pro- 
bably fall in with the famous troop of morris- 
dancers from a neighbouring village, with their 
quaint costumes hung with bells and their gaily 
beribboned knees and hats, dancing with un- 
flagging energy a dance in which Shakespeare 
himself may often have joined, a dance that, 
in its origin and symbolism, goes back to 
time immemorial. In the afternoon there is a 



reception at the Town Hall by the Shakespeare 
Club, at which the Mayor acts as host ; and 
the town is en fete all day until night comes 
and it is time to go to the Theatre. 

In recent years there has been established 
an annual exhibition of works of art, house- 
hold utensils and furniture, tapestry, and curios 
illustrating mediaeval and Elizabethan times, 
or of some special play of the period. These 
exhibitions, it is hoped, will eventually become 
a Folk Museum in which will be traced the 
agricultural, industrial, and artistic life of Eng- 
land from earliest times until the present day. 

Old English sports hold a place during the 
Festival, and include wrestling, quarter-staff, 
single-stick, fencing, skipping, and old English 

On May Day a special Festival for the 
children of Stratford - upon - Avon and the 
surrounding district has been arranged by 
Mrs. F. R. Benson, and there are those who 
think this one of the most charming attrac- 
tions of the whole Festival. Mrs. Benson 
loves the children, and understands that they 
must dance and sing out of the joy of their 
hearts if it is to be a real May Festival and 
not a mere spectacle for grown-up folks or an 
extra lesson for the children. The coming of 



May Day is a sign for a well-known dancer to 
appear and fiddle for the children of Stratford 
and of Ilmington, the latter following him as 
the children followed the Pied Piper of 
Hamelin. He regards himself as " Mrs. 
Benson's friend," and nothing would keep 
him from helping her in the May Day revel. 
Down the street the children dance, and into 
the Theatre gardens, where the Festival takes 

It is not necessary to enlarge on the value 
of the work done during all these years in 
connection with the Theatre at Stratford-upon- 
Avon by Mr. F. R. Benson. The townsfolk of 
Stratford showed their appreciation of it in 
1910 when he was presented with the free- 
dom of the city as a token of their loyalty 
to him and to his ideals. This is a distinc- 
tion which has not been accorded to any one 
since the day when Garrick received the same 

It is three hundred years since there was 
incarnated in the personality of Shakespeare 
all England's best ideals of national life, and, 
since these were manifested in his dramas, 
we, to-day, are beginning to understand what 
these dramas mean, and to perceive to what 
high purpose his art can be made to serve 



both as a means of education and of recreation, 
and as an instrument for keeping alive in towns 
and villages the traditions and memories of 
heroes and of heroic deeds. 

We believe that the work of the Memorial 
Theatre will be much enlarged as its purpose 
is better understood and more widely known. 

From it will come the representation of 
classic and modern drama that will set the note 
of England's best achievement ; and attached 
to it will be a School of Acting, to belong 
to which will be a guarantee of excellence of 
technique and of the possession of true artistic 

Thus the Stratford-upon-Avon Shakespeare 
Memorial Theatre will stand in the future as 
it has done in the past for an intelligent and 
perceptive patriotism, having a due apprecia- 
tion of all that is best in the past history of our 
race and of all that is most worth encouraging 
in the future, which is still ours to mould as 
we will. 

In May 1909 a meeting was held in the 
Memorial Picture Gallery at Stratford-upon- 
Avon to consider the possibility of making the 
work of the Theatre and of the Festival better 

Plans were also made for a second Festival, 


which has since been successfully inaugurated, 
in July and August, for the convenience of 
those who for various reasons could not attend 
in April and May, and also for visitors from 
the Colonies, the United States, and other 

It was also felt that the time had come when 
an attempt should be made to gather round 
the Theatre those who in various ways were 
working in the interests of art and who per- 
ceived in dancing, music, song, and games 
those regenerative forces which were helping 
to restore to the English people their inherit- 
ance of joy and of strength, so long held in 
abeyance through the invading evils of over- 
crowded city life. 

The late Mr. Edward Burrows, one of 
H.M. Inspectors of Schools, was present. He 
had long been a warm supporter of all that would 
lead to a fuller and happier life for the children 
in our schools, and had been one of the first 
to welcome the revival of folk-song and dance, 
and to realise its value as an educative and 
recreative force. 

Mr. F. R. Benson reminded those present 
that the original founders of the Memorial 
Theatre had evidently foreseen that the work 
would extend in many directions, and had 



made provision for this extension in the 
Articles of Association. 

It will be well to insert here the article to 
which Mr. Benson referred. The objects of 
the Association include : 

(a) The building of a theatre at Stratford- 
upon-Avon to be dedicated to the memory of 

(H) The annual celebration in a fitting 
manner of Shakespeare's birthday. 

(c] The advancement and improvement of 
the dramatic art, by the establishment and 
maintenance of a School of Acting, the delivery 
of lectures, the establishment of prizes for 
essays, and other means. 

(d} The effecting the objects aforesaid or 
any of them, either alone or conjointly with 
any scientific, literary, or other society or 

A long and earnest discussion followed, and 
the main idea of the Conference was eventually 
formulated in the following words : It is pro- 
posed to hold a supplementary season in the 
summer, about the end of July and the begin- 
ning of August, for the benefit of the Colonial, 
American, and foreign visitors. At this season 
it is also proposed to give in the Theatre and 
out of doors special plays and performances of 



a pageant nature for the benefit of associations, 
schools, universities, and to arrange camps for 
students, boy scouts, and children. 

Thus began what promises to be a new 
epoch in the history of the Memorial Theatre 
and its surrounding agencies. 

The time for this new development, which 
will carry the spirit of Shakespeare and all 
that is involved in his dramas into ever wider 
and wider spheres, was well chosen. To those 
who have eyes to see and ears to hear it is 
abundantly evident that there is to-day an 
awakening throughout the length and breadth 
of England. It is an awakening of national 
consciousness and of national responsibility. It 
involves a race-consciousness that will over- 
come class prejudice, and that will unite the 
dwellers in all parts of the Empire in that it 
means a new Imperial ideal. All over the 
world and in all nations the cosmopolitan ideal 
is being realised as false except for purposes 
of trade, commerce, and for certain material 
conveniences. In art, in high politics, in its 
true and inner life each nation must carve its 
own destiny according to its own distinctive 
individuality and the special gifts with which 
it has been entrusted. 

The renaissance of this individual race- 


consciousness is to-day in England finding an 
outward and visible sign in a revival of folk- 
art in drama, dance music, and song, and in 
a love of nature and outdoor life. In legend 
and folk-tale we are relearning the age-long 
wisdom of the folk which has always had its 
roots deep in the traditions of the English 
people. We are beginning to distrust the 
generalisations gathered on the surface of the 
hurrying life of to-day, and we are looking 
deeper into the heart of England for some of 
those qualities without which no nation can 
fulfil its highest destiny. 

And it is in this development of our own 
highest ideals that we shall learn to understand 
the peoples of other countries whose outward 
characteristics may differ widely from our own, 
and it is on these lines that the lasting comity 
of nations will eventually come about, and not 
by racial wars nor by a surface glozing over 
of national differences. 

The evidences of this awakening are all 
around us in England to-day. In cities and 
in towns young men and women are spending 
the hours of recreation in singing the folk- 
songs and dancing the folk-dances evolved 
from the tillers of the soil, as an expression of 
race-consciousness in religious ceremonial no 



less than of joy in everyday work and life. 
They are also acting and reciting the master- 
pieces of English literature with tone and 
gesture which would have been an impossible 
achievement ten or twenty years ago. Children, 
too, are being taught in folk-games some of the 
deepest lessons yet learned by the human race. 
That this last statement may not seem far 
fetched an instance may here be given. 

A very favourite game is called " London 
Bridge/' It tells of the breaking down of a 
great and important bridge. It tells in 
nonsense rhyme of different suggestions for 
building it again : 

"Build it up with pins. and needles; 
Build it up with penny loaves ; 
Build it up with gold and silver," 

until at last with apparent irrelevance come 
the words : 

" Here's a prisoner we have got, 
My fair lady." 

There is an evidently made up charge against 
the prisoner of having stolen a watch and chain, 
an offer of ransom, and a final leading of the 
victim to prison, on failure to find the required 



It is well authenticated that in ancient days 
human sacrifices were laid at the foundation- 
stones of important buildings, and that in later 
and more humane days treasure in gold and 
silver was substituted for the human life. 

And so in this child's game we see handed 
down in symbol the age-long truth that no great 
work can last unless founded upon the sacrifice 
of self, that no bridge can be built across which 
humanity shall walk to higher life unless under- 
neath and at its foundation is human life and 
human service. 

And the English country-side is also alive 
to-day with this rebirth of our national in- 
heritance of folk-art. In remote villages 
miracle plays, pageants of history, folk-songs, 
and folk-dances are studied during long winter 
evenings to make merry the days when the 
sun shines and life can be lived out of doors. 

In schools, eyes and hands are being trained 
to a new dexterity, and bare school walls are 
gay with the colours of the beautiful brushwork 
done by tiny children in infant schools. At 
Sompting, in Sussex, history and geography 
have been made living and interesting to the 
children by dramatising those subjects when- 
ever possible. And not only has this awaken- 
ing come to the children, but in many villages 



to-day ploughmen and sewing-maids, work- 
men and workwomen, are taking part in drama 
and dance and song. 

There are everywhere signs that the ugliness 
of cities has reached its limit, that the power 
conferred by mere money has failed, that com- 
mercialism cannot satisfy, and once more men 
and women are returning to the deeper and 
more abiding rhythm of life long ago broken 
by the rush and whirr of machinery. We are 
relearning the lesson to-day that the forces 
which make for evil are apt to be increased 
both by opposition and by cowardly acquies- 
cence, and that they can be redeemed only by 
the transmuting power of beauty and of art 
into willing servants of the best and highest 
interests of the nation. 

To concentrate these newly - inaugurated 
forces and to give them an ever widening 
opportunity for expression is the task which 
the Festival Association has set itself to do. 

As a part of the summer season of 1 910 at 
the Memorial Theatre, a Folk Festival was 
held in which dancers and singers from a 
factory in Hull, children from London, country 
folk from the immediate neighbourhood, and 
country school children took part. The Theatre 
was filled all day with people from all over 


Photo by IV. y. Kilpatrick, Dublin 



England, and interested spectators from coun- 
tries as far off as America and New Zealand. 

The actual Folk Festival was preceded by 
a competition in folk dance and song, and 
the competitors were traditional dancers and 
singers from the country around Stratford, 
and children, young men, and young women 
who had learnt the songs and dances since 
they were revived in 1905. 

During the three weeks of the Festival daily 
classes were held for folk-song singing, morris 
and country dancing, and children's singing- 
games, especially for teachers engaged in ele- 
mentary schools and physical training colleges. 
These classes were well attended, and the 
Parish Parlour where they were held became 
quite a meeting ground for those especially 
interested in the study of folk-art and its use 
as a factor in the education of children. 

Many distinguished visitors, including His 
Highness the Gaekwar of Baroda, came to the 
Parish Parlour to see the classes. On each 
Saturday morning, before the departure of the 
week's pupils to their homes all over England, 
a little informal talk was given by Mrs. F. R. 
Benson, the Rev. F. Hodgson, Mr. Benson, 
Mr. Flower and others, and one Saturday was 
memorable because the Gaekwar spoke to us 

209 o 


of the life of his people in India and the link 
between East and West which was being 
strengthened by the love of folk-art and of all 
that the highest drama meant to the people. 

Those Saturday morning talks will live for 
all of us who were present as embodying the 
ideals for which it is hoped these visits to 
Stratford-upon-Avon will stand. 

Excursions were arranged to places of in- 
terest in the neighbourhood, and many happy 
hours were spent boating on the river. There 
was during the whole Festival a delightful 
spirit of companionship and of helpfulness 
which promises well for the work we have 
so much at heart. 

The performance of Josephine Preston 
Peabody's play, " The Piper/' in the first 
summer season, at which were gathered so 
many interested in the education of the young, 
set that note of beauty and of joy for the 
children which it is hoped will always be 
associated with Stratford-upon-Avon. 

" Out of your cage, 
Come out of your cage 
And take your soul on a pilgrimage ! 
Pease in your shoes, an if you must ! 
But out and away, before you're dust : 
Scribe and Stay-at-home, 


Saint and Sage, 
Out of your cage, 
Out of your cage ! " 

was the message which went out in 1910 at the 
beginning of the new venture, and it is the 
message which well expresses the spirit of the 
whole movement. 

There is already established an office in 
Guild Street which is a central bureau of 
information about pageants, folk-drama, miracle 
plays, folk-dancing, folk-songs, and children's 
singing games. This office is prepared to 
supply information on these subjects, and, when 
required, to assist local initiative. The work 
of the office is also to keep records of all 
dramatic societies and their performances, and 
to collect information as to plays, acting ver- 
sions, scenery, and dresses. 

One of the objects of the movement is to 
facilitate and encourage dramatic representa- 
tions throughout the country, especially in 
villages by the villagers themselves, and in 
schools by scholars, for purposes of education 
and recreation. 

Greek, Latin, French, and German plays 
have already been produced with success at 
the public schools and the universities ; his- 
torical episodes, masques, and pageants in 



elementary schools and villages. The opinion 
of many of the teachers who have tried the 
experiment confirms the idea that a class of 
students will learn more of a subject in three 
hours by assisting at a play, whether as actor 
or audience, than in three weeks by any other 
method. Further, that in the school play there 
are not only the machinery of teaching by word 
and pictures any special subject, but also the 
means of increasing esprit de corps, and awak- 
ening an intellectual interest in the dullest of 
scholars. A very poor woman was lately heard 
to say that the folk dances and games had 
" knocked more into her child's head than all 
the other schooling she had ever had ! " 
There are whole scenes in history, in travels, 
in Herodotus, Chaucer, Froissart, Addison, 
Scott, Jane Austen, Dickens, Thackeray, and 
others ready to hand ; there are legends and 
myths, English and foreign, waiting on the 
book-shelves. There are also many plays that, 
from the form in which they are cast or from 
some peculiar requirements, are more suitable 
for this method of representation ; many such 
works, capable of giving noble pleasure and 
stirring the imagination of actors and audience, 
might find in the hall and in the schoolroom a 
hearing denied them in the theatre. 



The future of this whole movement lies with 
the English people themselves. 

We have the use of an endowed Theatre, 
the assistance of a stock company of accom- 
plished artists, and a School of Acting ; and 
now we have our extended Festival, for the 
development of which there is also the nucleus 
of an endowment. As the membership of the 
Association grows, and as the endowment fund 
also grows, all that we wish to do can be 

It is to the Association which has already 
accomplished so much, and which has before 
it so hopeful a future, that we invite all those 
men and women of good-will who would see 
England a fairer and more joyful country for 
the coming generation. 

The foundations were well laid by the 
founders of the work ; it is for us to build 
the Temple of Life and of Art, and to give 
to it our loyal service and our best gifts. 




THE revival of folk-art in song and dance, 
in game and drama is, in England to-day, an 
accomplished fact. The future development 
of this revival is still on the knees of the gods, 
but there are those who see in it unlimited 
possibilities of happiness and well-being for the 
coming generations of England. 

There is also to-day a new and different 
interest in folk-lore, in legend, and in folk-tale, 
and a new comprehension of what both science 
and religion may learn from their study. 

Sociologists finding the problems of civilisa- 
tion too difficult to unravel in the complicated 
life of towns and cities, are studying the pre- 
historic life of individual and of communal 
man, hoping that by following the threads of 
progress from these olden days onward they 
may discover at what points divergence was 
made on to a mistaken road, that they may 
guide the future on to better lines. 



Students of Eugenics are taking facts and 
premises from the simplest forms of life and 
processes on which to found helpful suggestions 
for the improvement of a race which has to 
adapt itself to an ever increasing complexity of 

Artists, too, are going back to the creations 
of the simple and unlettered folk that they may 
build on the foundations of natural taste and 
emotion. We are seeking in all things to 
penetrate deep into the heart of the folk, and 
so we are finding evidences of religion and of 
the spiritual life not in the wordy disputations 
of theologians, but in the appeal which the 
spirit makes to the deepest instincts of the 
race, as shown in the similarity of the beliefs 
of simple folk in all countries and in all times, 
as illustrated when the paganism of Greece was 
merged into the Christian religion. 

It is interesting to look back some twenty 
years and trace the origin of this renaissance 
of folk-art which is so completely changing 
the life of England both in town and country. 

We are passing on from the negation and 
denial of Puritan days to a Catholic acceptance 
of joy and of beauty as our national inheritance. 

If we have learnt the lesson, which is 
necessary for a nation no less than for an 



individual, that the time of death and of 
negation is part of the growth in life and fruit- 
fulness, that the corn of wheat must fall into 
the earth and die before it can rise to golden 
harvest, then our Puritan ancestors will not 
have built in vain, and we can be trusted to 
reap the harvest of joy which, in tears, they 

And the revival, which has its roots in the 
folk, is a revival of art which is not separated 
from life and work, therefore it is clean and 
virile, and is not beset with the dangers of an 
attenuated preciosity so often the result of an 
artistic renaissance. One Eastertide a working 
man from London, who spent long days in 
hard and difficult mechanical work, spent a week 
in the country. It was a late Easter, and the 
garden was a mass of spring flowers. For 
hours he sat taking his fill of their beauty, 
wanting no other amusement than just to sit 
and watch. And because his working days 
were hard and his labour honest, so his love of 
the beauty of earth and sky and flowers was 
clean and strong, and as far as possible removed 
from that of the pseudo-aesthete who prates of 
art and the artistic temperament. 

Probably the first seeds of this revival 
amongst the people were sown in the early 



city settlements, which were first established 
about twenty years ago, as a protest against 
conditions which gave to one class all the 
opportunities of enjoying the beautiful things 
of life. A dawning consciousness that it was 
true of all classes that man could not live by 
bread alone sent a band of men and women 
into the poorest districts of London to share as 
far as it was possible the advantages which 
leisure and education had given them with 
those who had been deprived of their birth- 
right of joy and beauty. 

The educated classes had thrown off the 
iron yoke of Puritanism, but it was much later 
before the working-class was allowed a share 
in this new liberty. 

The woman who encouraged her daughter to 
dance and sing and take an intelligent interest 
in drama, still considered these things wicked 
for her maid and her dressmaker. 

But in these settlements men and women of 
all classes came together, and as time went on 
the demand of the workers for a fuller life was 
met by those who were ready to meet that 
demand, and music and dances and painting 
and drama were brought within reach of those 
who were just beginning to realise how much 
they meant. 



And as ever happens, those who went to 
give found that they were great receivers too ; 
what they gave of their leisure and their in- 
tellectual equipment came back to them in 
strength and loyalty and an insight into the 
deeper truths of life, unknown to those who 
study only books. The folk-art revival is a 
result of this meeting in human fellowship of all 
classes and of all conditions. 

The revival of folk-dancing, which has been 
such an important landmark in the history 
of the folk-art revival, was taken up with 
enthusiasm by a club for working girls which 
had for its object just this sharing of the best 
things of life with those to whom the enjoyment 
of them would have been otherwise impossible. 
And it happened on this wise. For many years 
our winter's companionship had ended in a 
summer's holiday spent in the country and by 
the sea, and there we had learned to know and 
love the sights and sounds of the country. 
We became familiar with racing clouds, with 
the deep tidal river, and with the ever chang- 
ing rhythm of the sea. It was not strange, 
therefore, that a little working girl said when 
she first heard the broken rhythm of the 
beautiful folk-song, "The Bold Fisherman": 
" Isn't it just like the sound of the little waves 



curling over s ?" It is interesting to note that 
the same idea came to a cultivated musician 
who heard the song for the first time. 

Florence Warren, whose name stands to 
many both in England and America as that 
of the finest exponent of English folk-dancing, 
first learnt to know and love the sea as she 
sped over the waves on a moonlight trip in 
a big fishing trawler, that held all the party 
of girls spending a holiday away from the 
city ; and I like to think that, as a child of 
eleven, she began to drink in from Mother 
Earth some of the gaiety which has made her 
such a bringer of joy to both English and 
American children and their teachers. 

Besides, from our country holiday we had 
learned much from song and dance and drama 
during the winter evenings we spent in town, 
and we had learnt the national Scotch dances 
and danced them on special occasions to the 
sound of the bagpipe, played by the gallant- 
stepping piper who had also taught the steps 
of the dances. And we had given our winter 
to Irish folk-song and Irish dances. 

Circumstances had for a long time been 
fitting the members of this club for the joyous 
service to their country which has set the 
children of England dancing once more as 



they danced in the days when England was 
merry England in reality as well as in name. 

In the autumn of 1909 the first English 
folk-song was taught to the members of the 
Esperance Girls' Club, and its name, " The 
Seeds of Love," was symbolic of the harvest 
of song which stands high and golden in the 
land to-day. 

The effect of the music was magical, and 
although to-day they know some hundred 
songs, the music still holds its charm, both 
for the singers and for those who come again 
and again to hear the songs, until one is 
ashamed of the days when we gave them the 
artificial and insincere music which was all we 
thought them capable of appreciating. Then 
some weeks afterwards we heard that there 
were still alive in at least one country place 
the old morris dances, and lute men were in- 
vited to London to teach these dances of the 

And, again, the name of the first dance learnt 
was symbolic, and again the result was magical. 
In less than half-an-hour the old ceremonial 
dance of the spring, " Bean-setting/' was being 
danced in a part of London where twice a week 
laden hay-carts bring the odours of the country 
right into the heart of London. 



It is said that there is no third generation of 
Londoners, and one wonders sometimes, as one 
looks at the way in which this revival of dance 
and song has spread, whether there was not some 
response of ancestral memory in that first learn- 
ing of songs and dances by these London girls. 

Experience has confirmed the first impres- 
sions that these hard-working, independent, 
healthy, and laughter-loving daughters of the 
people are the natural interpreters and teachers 
of these folk-dances which have come from the 
unlettered and simple country folk. 

In England there is danger that we do not 
recognise that which the Americans have been 
careful to make quite clear, that whereas the 
classic and the ballroom dance need careful 
training and technical skill, the folk-dance is a 
natural expression of joy and well-being, and 
needs no special training either in dancer or 
teacher. I like to hear it said, " We will show 
you a folk-dance," and not " We will teach you 
one," because this is really what the teaching 
should be. 

Folk-art, if it is genuine, is an organic thing, 
and must grow and develop as the years pass 
by, and the dance of to-day will change to- 
morrow if it still expresses the genuine emotion 
of to-morrow. 



The revival of the love of drama and the 
actual taking part in it of those who at best 
were only lookers-on, is another hopeful sign 
of to-day. 

The miracle play, the Church's way of teach- 
ing moral and religious truths to simple and 
unlettered folk, had fallen on evil days, and 
almost the only form in which it remained for 
years was the Punch and Judy show, always 
and for ever dear to children everywhere. How 
many of us remember, as we look on at the antics 
of the puppets, that the show once represented 
the drama of the betrayal of our Lord by Judas 
Iscariot and Pontius Pilate ? And now in many 
towns and villages truth and beauty are being 
held up for worship, and treachery and lying 
shown in all their ugliness by plays written for 
and acted by the people themselves. 

Ten years ago it would have been difficult to 
find a village where a play could be seen, still 
less one in which the villagers took part. Not 
many years hence every village will have its 
play, with its own stock company composed of 
those who follow the plough, shoe the horses, 
make the butter, and follow all the ordinary 

In Boxford in Berkshire there has been 
given for eight consecutive years a masque in 



which the children of the village take their 
part. One year the play represented the 
personification of the rivers and streams of 
the county. The play was given in a wood- 
land theatre, and the children, as gnats and 
dragon-flies, darted in and out, or as trees 
and tiny streams played their parts as only 
children can. 

As the years have passed this play has be- 
come the centre of the village life, from which 
radiate many forces which make for a better 
and a happier social life. 

In another village in Somerset there is given 
on SS. Innocents' Day a play which tells the 
story of Bethlehem and the tidings of great 
joy brought by the angels to the shepherds as 
they watched. The parts are taken by the 
shepherds and tillers of the soil who live in 
the village^ and it is under the direction of the 
parish priest, who leaves the dialogue mostly 
to the people who act the play, only reserving 
to himself the rights of censor should the 
dialogue become too local and too personal 
for the peace of mind of the audience! 

These are only two plays out of very many, 
and inquiry can be made at the office of the 
Festival Association at Stratford-upon-Avon 
for a list of plays at present being performed. 



What has been the effect of this revival of 
folk-art in the present generation ? This is a 
question one is often asked by those who are 
still a little afraid of happiness and who do not 
quite believe that 

" The good are always the merry 
Save by an evil chance." 

It has meant, and will, I think, always mean, 
a greater patriotism and love of one's country 
and a closer knitting together of class and 

It means the recovery of a lost happiness 
and beauty and a strengthening of moral fibre, 
and it means more physical well-being. 

It means gentler manners and a greater 
courtesy, and a joy of living that will make 
English boys and girls what every lover of 
our country would have them, upstanding, 
clean living, and joyous. 


The revival of folk-dance, folk-song, and 
folk-games is already one of the features of 
education in America. 

Especially delightful is the fact that the 


Societies which exist for organising the play- 
time of the city children are using folk-dances 
and games, recognising that these are the 
natural outlet for the joy of life, always the 
inheritance of children, however sordid and 
miserable their material circumstances may be. 

The interesting feature of the revival in 
America is that, as there are living there the 
folk of every nation under the sun, the teachers 
do not teach the English dramas and games, 
but have made a study of those of the many 
nations represented by the children in their 

The experiment in America is therefore 
unique, and will be watched by all those 
interested in the subject of folk-art. Perhaps 
in the future a new school of music and dance 
will arise, founded on this accumulated know- 
ledge of the folk-music of all nations. 

I have been attending every kind of play 
during the past three months' stay in the 
United States. I have gone from Maeter- 
linck at the New Theatre, to Miver's Music 
Hall in the Bowery, and have a very definite 
idea of the strength and of the weakness of the 
presentations I have seen. In the first place, 
I have never seen anything so beautiful as the 

225 p 


setting, lighting, stage effects, and dressing of 
every play I have seen, and of all the beautiful 
effects the scenes in "Sister Beatrice" at the 
New Theatre were beyond all words most 
beautiful. No criticism is possible, for there 
was not only richness and superb colouring, 
but also a wonderful restraint throughout. 

I saw another symbolic play besides " Sister 
Beatrice," and that was "The Scarecrow," by 
Percy Mackaye, and the acting in these two 
plays was beyond criticism, for the real things 
which they symbolised belong to no age and 
to fio nation. The struggle between earthly 
love and the spiritual life, and the final realisa- 
tion that when the love is high and true there 
is no antagonism, belongs to all men ; the birth 
of an evil through love, even when the soul 
dwells in a pitifully grotesque exterior, is not 
a new story, and can be interpreted as well 
by an American as by a Frenchman or an 
Englishman. But it is when it comes to the 
interpretation of modern English drama, or 
of a drama which is English as Shakespeare 
is English, that the first difficulty comes in. 

I do not think it possible for Shakespeare to 
be played convincingly by any man or woman 
who has not lived and studied in England, and 
under some one who is saturated with all the 



best traditions of the English stage. I have 
come back more than ever convinced that the 
Stock Company and School of Acting which we 
already have, which it is hoped will be much 
enlarged and strengthened in the near future, 
is as much a necessity for the serious dramatic 
artists of America as it is for those of England. 
Some amalgamation could surely be arranged 
by which American dramatic students could 
study in England and be attached to the 
School of Acting at Stratford-upon-Avon. 

The New Theatre in New York is a standing 
proof of the lavish generosity of Americans, and 
of their patriotic desire that their country shall 
have the best its sons and daughters can give 
her. A step further and the establishment 
of a co-operation with England in the training 
of its artists, and America would have the finest 
dramatic productions of the world. 





HAVING read the foregoing chapters the reader will have 
some idea of what is taking place and about to take place 
in Stratford-upon-Avon. And the question may be asked, 
"How may I take part in so valuable a movement? 

1. By writing to the Secretary of the Festival Association 
and making further inquiry as to how to get into touch 
with the various developments. 

2. By coming either alone or with a party of friends, to 
either the Birthday Festival in the Spring or the Shake- 
speare Season in the Summer. No better idea can be formed 
of the work than by living in the atmosphere of Stratford- 
upon-Avon for a few days and taking part in the revels. 

3. If actual work is impossible one can become a sub- 
scriber. Subscribers of a minimum of 55. annually become 
Associates; donors of a minimum of ^5 become Life 
Associates of the Festival Association. Donors of a 
minimum of 100 are eligible for election as Governors 
of the Memorial Theatre, 

Or, one may help 

(i.) By encouraging Morris Dancing among the villages 
and cities. By forming classes for teachers. By sending 



teams to the annual Folk Festival held in July at Stratford- 

(ii.) By encouraging in the same way Folk Singing in the 
villages and towns. 

(iii.) By writing small dramatic scenes or plays and 
getting them performed in local centres, and perhaps bring- 
ing performers to the Folk Festival to act such village 
plays ; to make centres so that the neighbouring villages 
can obtain information about performing a play, making or 
hiring costumes and scenery, with the thousand and one 
details of a small production, such centres always to be in 
touch with the general centre at the Festival Association in 

(iv.) When more important dramatic work is undertaken 
to arrange with the Central Office at Stratford-upon-Avon 
for books of the plays and for the hire of costumes and 
scenery at a reasonable cost. (Many helpers are needed 
to prepare prompt-books and undertake to copy from 
manuscript, to colour photographs, to write out descrip- 
tions of costumes, &c.) 

Inquiries concerning Theatre Tickets, Apartments, 
Lodgings, &c., to be addressed to Miss A. Rainbow, Box 
Office, Memorial Lecture Room, Stratford-upon-Avon. 
Telephone 45. 


All Teachers and bond fide Students are granted special 
privileges for the Summer Season. Full particulars can be 
obtained from the Secretary, Festival Association, Stratford- 


THE shortest and quickest route to the Home of Shake- 
speare from London and a number of Provincial Towns in 
the Midlands and the North of England is by the Great 
Central Railway. The traveller from London is able to 
journey from Marylebone by express trains in just over 
two hours to Stratford-on-Avon. During the season these 
run four days a week, viz. on Mondays, Wednesdays, 
Thursdays, and Saturdays, and return to town by an 
equally quick train, for the modest fare of 6/6 for the 
day, and 4/6 half-day. The inclusive fare of 12/6 pro- 
vides rail journey from London (Marylebone) to Stratford- 
on-Avon and back, conveyance from Station to Hotel, 
luncheon at " Golden Lion " Hotel, circular drive to places 
of interest in Stratford-on-Avon and Shottery, afternoon 
tea at Hotel. The circular rail and motor tour fare of 
1 1/6 includes rail journey from London (Marylebone) to 
Stratford-on-Avon and back, and a tour by motor to 
Anne Hathaway's cottage, Shottery, Warwick Castle, 
Guy's ClirTe, Kenilworth Castle, Leamington, and back to 
Shakespeare's Birthplace, Stratford-on-Avon. Particulars 
of these facilities are obtainable at Marylebone Station, 
any G.C.R. Town Office or Agency, or by post from 
the Company's Publicity Bureau, 216 Marylebone Road, 
London, N.W. 

For Skitch-ma4 ste over. 

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THE quickest and shortest route between London 
and Stratford-on-Avon for Shakespeare's country 
is by " The Shakespeare Route " on the Stratford- 
upon-Avon and Midland Junction Railway. 

This newly-organised and important Railway 
links up three Great Trunk Lines of England 
(Great Central, Midland, and London & North- 
Western Railway), and is thus enabled to give 
the best and most expeditious service from 


For full particulars of Train Service and all 
information apply to RUSSELL WILLMOTT, 
Manager, Stratford-on-Avon. 


For Sketch-map see over. 






Printed by BALLANTYNE, HANSON &> Co. 
Edinburgh &* London 




Books not returned on time are subject to a fine of 
50c per volume after the third day overdue, increasing 
to $1.00 per volume after the sixth day. Books not in 
demand may be renewed if application is made before 
expiration of loan period. 


DEC 241929 

REC'D t-D